A Family First

Freshmen are coming from a variety of cities and states to their
new homes in the dorms this week. Some are excited, some nervous,
and most a little of both. Some have a rich family history of
college graduates. But for one in seven of this year’s
freshmen, the college experience is new not only to the student,
but also to the family. These freshmen are known as
first-generation students.

“A first-generation student is a student who neither of
their parents have been to college,” said Myrna Carney,
assistant dean of University College. “One out of seven
students in this year’s class have parents who have never
been to college.”

Sha Von Hill, University College freshman, said she is a
first-generation student from the small town of Depew, OK, and has
always wanted to attend OU.

“None of my family has really been to a big university, so
I don’t really know what to expect,” Hill said. She
said that, while she is nervous and excited, she does not feel any
different than incoming freshmen who are not first-generation
students.

Hill and her parents attended the First Generation Parent Lunch
hosted by New Sooner Orientation yesterday in Couch Cafeteria.
Speakers from the Center for Student Life, University College,
Student Affairs and the OU Parents’ Association informed
attendees of the university’s commitment to helping new
freshmen make smooth transitions from high school to college
life.

Carney, who spoke on behalf of University College, stressed that
it is also parents’ jobs to support their freshmen in their
college endeavors, whether or not they attended college
themselves.

Tommy Alves, University College freshman, is a first-generation
student who attended the luncheon with his mother and grandparents.
His mother, Sandy Alves, said she hoped to learn a lot from the
luncheon’s speakers in order to effectively support her son
in his time at OU. Alves’ grandparents are also part of the
support system that Carney said is important to freshmen.

“This is where he feels like he can get the best
education,” said Gayle Toler, Alves’ grandmother.

Alves, like Hill, does not feel there is a major distinction
between himself and freshmen who are not first-generation
students.

“The friends I’ve talked to are just as excited as
me,” Alves said.

Nicole Strong, University College freshman, is another
first-generation student who said she does not think she differs
from other freshmen and is concentrating on the many areas she
plans to study at OU, including international studies, journalism
and Russian.

Strong’s parents said they hope to be a good support
system for her but that they will have to adjust to her not being
around the house.

“It’s just a different concept having her three
hours away,” said Strong’s father, Larry.

Carney said the OU makes no real distinction between
first-generation and non-first-generation students.

“We find that generally first-generation students are
equally as prepared as students who are non-first-generation
students,” Carney said. “These students have met the
same admission standards.”

Copyright The Oklahoma Daily