Breaking Barriers: How Arden University Empowers First-Generation Students

First-generation students, also known as first-gen students, are typically defined as those who are the first in their family to pursue higher education at a university level, which can come with a set of unique challenges. These can include navigating unfamiliar university application processes, applying for financial aid, or a lack of academic guidance that other students may receive from family members who have completed university degrees.

In this post, we'll take a look at the journey of first-generation students, explore the personalised support services Arden University offers, how these services impact our students today, and the broader societal impact of supporting first-generation students.

The journey of first-generation students

First-gen students set out on a journey marked by determination and the desire to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their families. While on this journey, students can sometimes struggle with feelings of isolation as they try to work out the unfamiliar terrain of university life without familial guidance.

Some students may struggle with:

  • Financial constraints:

The high cost of tuition, textbooks, and living expenses can be a significant challenge for students. Without the financial support typically provided by parents who have already gone to university, first-gen students may need to navigate limited resources and find ways to fund their education independently.

  • Feelings of imposter syndrome:

Imposter syndrome is when someone has self-doubt about their ability or accomplishments despite accruing high achievements. This is a common phenomenon among first-generation students. They might feel like they don't belong in the academic environment or that they are not as capable as their peers who come from more privileged backgrounds.

  • Balancing familial responsibilities:

Many first-generation students may be balancing their academic pursuits with familial responsibilities, such as caring for siblings or supporting their families financially. These additional obligations can create added stress and pressure, making focusing on studies and academic goals challenging.

  • Limited access to social capital:

Internships, job shadowing, and professional mentorships can be harder to come by without the right connections, meaning first-gen students can miss valuable opportunities. Without access to these networks, first-gen students may face barriers to securing career-building experiences, limiting their professional advancement.

Personalised support at Arden University

We want our first-generation students to feel like they can achieve anything they set their minds to, so we provide a comprehensive support service tailored to their needs. Our system has been designed specifically to help our students succeed wherever they are on their journeys.

Our range of academic support services includes success coaches, support champions, academic skills tutors, and dissertation support sessions that make our first-gen students feel like they have all the tools they need to complete their degrees and move towards a bright future.

We ensure students are fully supported as they move through the different stages of finding their perfect career. We have carefully carved out three stages of the career journey—the Discovery phase, the Focus phase, and the Achieve phase—so we can instantly recognise the best ways to help our students.

No matter where they fall, our students can seek our services to help them move smoothly along these stages and find fulfilling job roles.

Impact beyond the individual:

Empowering first-generation students to pursue higher education has a considerable effect that extends far beyond the individual student. This effect has a broader societal impact that has the power to inspire future generations and promote social mobility.

First-gen Arden University student Daukenumwerimi Victory Charles has overcome a number of obstacles to enrol onto his computing degree and start his path to academic and professional success.

Daukenumwerimi Victory Charles

Wherever you’re coming from, everyone is appreciated, and everyone is given an equal opportunity to explore, learn, and advance themselves at Arden University.

Daukenumwerimi Victory Charles
BSc (Hons) Computing

Overcoming his initial doubts about being able to fit a full-time degree around his other reponsibilities, Charles has now gained the confidence to grab incredible opportunities, such as earning a private pilot’s licence while studying his computing and IT degree.

Arden University remains dedicated to supporting first-generation students on their educational journey. By providing personalised support, celebrating achievements, and fostering a culture of encouragement, we work to empower our first-generation students to overcome barriers, realise their full potential, and create lasting positive change in their lives and their families.