Why Do First-Gens Lack Support From Their Parents?

Updated: Nov 5, 2021


Photo by Mikey Harris.

As a first-generation college student, it’s not easy talking to your parents about college. Parents with higher education can help guide their children because they went through college and can share their experiences with their kids.


Mariah Iseminger is a senior at Drexel University studying Marketing and Organizational Management. Throughout college, Iseminger noticed her peers didn’t experience the same challenges she encountered when talking to her parents about college.



It can be challenging for first-gen students to get their parents involved in their academics when they don’t understand the concept of college. It’s even more difficult to translate higher education vocabulary to parents who don’t speak English.


When Iseminger applied for co-op positions, she talked to her parents about the process of choosing a co-op. Iseminger’s parents didn’t understand why Iseminger made certain decisions.


“A big part in selecting a co-op is thinking about whether you are going to like the company, work and people. Instead of picking the co-op that paid the most, my parents didn’t understand why I made choices based on those things. My parents never had to make those choices because working is just a way of getting money,” Iseminger explains.


Many factors come into play when deciding which job offer to accept, such as wages, work environment and type of company. Parents who don’t have a higher education sometimes don’t have the privilege to choose a job they enjoy if it doesn’t pay well.


Photo by Wix.

Iseminger struggles with mental health and found it challenging to talk to her parents about it.


“I can’t really go to my parents for support because they don’t understand mental health and have a binary way of thinking. It’s a challenge having people in your life that don’t have a higher education and baseline understanding of mental health,” Iseminger states.


Mental health is talked about more often than ever before in this generation. You may notice that some parents have different beliefs about mental health and one reason is a lack of knowledge on the topic.


It can be hard to get through college when students can’t go to their parents for help. Your parents can’t help you in ways other parents with higher education can, but they are supporting you in different ways throughout your college journey.