This year, the College connected students who are in the first generation in their families to attend college through a monthly brunch series that gave students an opportunity to talk about how their backgrounds influence their Columbia experiences and to brainstorm ideas for mentoring, programming and activities that could better assist first-generation students in adjusting to life at the College. Topics of discussion included “Columbia Culture Shock,” “Fear of Failing,” “Fear of Not Fitting In,” “Homesickness,” “Affordability,” “Unpreparedness for Small Things” and “After College: What’s Next?” These conversations helped spur the creation of first-in-family initiatives during summer and fall 2014, including a “Columbia 101” summer advising program in Spanish, a first-in-family welcome reception and panel for students and their families during Family Orientation and a peer-mentoring program for first-generation College students.
The first-in-family brunches are one of many specialized programs that CSA offers to provide support and guidance to students. CSA, which houses Academic Success Programs, pre-professional advising and the Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program for John W. Kluge, John Jay and Global Scholars and Science Research Fellows, pairs each College student with an academic adviser who works with him or her throughout his or her time at Columbia.
“If my involvement in the first-gen brunch series can help at least one family and its student navigate the cultural and linguistic barriers that my mom and I weren’t able to four years ago, then I’m all the more proud for having been a part of it.”