Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jaimie Biermann - Still Learning

I did not hear the term “first generation” until I started graduate school at Indiana State University (ISU).  Being a third generation student myself, I started college with the perception that everyone went to college and came from families where at least one parent attended college.  I realized during my first year at my undergraduate institution that some of my friends came from families where neither of their parents went to college.  Although I researched different colleges by myself, I had support from my parents and grandparents.  They were knowledgeable about the many opportunities that college had to offer me after high school and were willing to share those experiences with me. 
I now think more about how I interact with the undergraduate students I work with and the language I use.  Student Affairs Professionals use a lot of acronyms for different groups or resources on campus.  I had the support from my family and friends and they helped me figure out different acronyms and college terms that I did not understand when I first went to college.  Many students who are first generation might not have family or friends who know what the different resources on campus are, or what the acronyms that student affairs professionals, faculty, or administrators mean. 
It is extremely important to me to make sure that student affairs professionals take the time to learn about students’ backgrounds and how they can help them get better acquainted with college.  I am interested in hearing people’s stories about being first generation students.  Now that I am familiar with the term “first generation,” it is easier to discuss the topic with my peers and learn about their experiences.  I am excited to learn more about first generation students and what experiences made them choose student affairs as a career.

1 comment:

  1. Jaimie,

    What a nice, honest blog post. I was a 3rd-gen college student as well, so my worldview was shaped much like yours prior to college and during college. It took me a while to realize that other people had a very, very different experience than I did in high school. I thought everybody took AP classes and had their parents drive them around the state of Texas on college visits--not so.

    I think it's tough to be in our shoes and put ourselves in the place of 1st-gen students. It really means ignoring most of the assumptions that we've acquired over our lives about higher education and how we view it. I'll also look forward to hearing others' 1st-gen stories!