Harvard for students whose parents didn't go to college

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Discus: College Admissions: March 2004 Archive: Harvard for students whose parents didn't go to college
By Chocolate (Chocolate) on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 02:06 pm: Edit

I read somewhere (can't remember where!) that colleges such as Harvard "like" students whose parents have not gone to college, all else being equal. Is this a "hook" at Harvard and other Ivy Leagues, or other highly selectives schools? If so, why?

By Fallentear04 (Fallentear04) on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 03:06 pm: Edit

I wouldn't say it's a huge hook. Being a first generation college student myself, getting a college education isn't emphasized in our home, it's not considered a priority. In many homes like mine, a lot has to be done on your own in order to get to a level equal to other college applicants. My parents don't speak English; I'm not exposed to the same vocabulary as someone whose parents went to college may have been exposed to. I had to strive in school to get good grades in English. My parents were never able to help me with my homework, and they sure can't help me now with calculus, physics, or chemistry.

It's the same reason having minority status is considered a "hook." Sure, some kids may have had the same opportunities as a WASP whose parents went to Harvard, but for the most part, it's not that way.

By Elzbieta777 (Elzbieta777) on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 03:22 pm: Edit

really? colleges would consider being first generation equivalent to minority status? wow!that's awesome! neither of my parents went to college either, and although they're both very intelligent people and they work very hard for our family, they're not very educated.. neither of them knew anything really about the college admissions process besides taking the SATs. this was a major problem for me since i didn't know what colleges were looking for until it was too late. i hope being 1st gen helps me out.

By Fallentear04 (Fallentear04) on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 05:13 pm: Edit

ooh my niece's name is elzbieta..

Anyway, it's not equal to being a minority. There's this idea that some colleges have to fill a certain "quota" of minority students so that they don't fear getting slapped with a discrimination suit. That used to be a problem after all. However, to the best of my knowledge, there hasn't been any discrimination against first generation college students. It's just similar in the reasoning as to why they're both considered hooks.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 05:24 pm: Edit

Yes, being first generation college is a big hook at places like Harvard.

It is unusual to find first generation college students with the stats (minimum 1200 SAT, B+ average plus a rigorous curriculum) for a place like an Ivy plus the inclination to go to a place like an Ivy. Many such students prefer to go to a college that's close to home and where some of their high school friends are going.

Even if they get into a place like an Ivy, they may turn it down for a low ranked local college.

Regardless of race, being first generation college is a big hook at Ivies and similar places. Similarly, being from a blue collar and/or low income family also is a hook.

The Ivies all guarantee aid up to the level of demonstrated financial need, and Harvard now guarantees full aid to students coming from households with $40k or less annual income.

Lots of people aren't aware of how first generation college, low income, blue collar parents are all hooks because when such students are white , people in general don't question their credentials or ask loads of questions to find out if they truly "qualify" for admission. If they are white, it is assumed that they "belong."

By Geoffbloom (Geoffbloom) on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 05:38 pm: Edit

It all goes along with the "obstacles overcome" part of the personal aspect of any application. Emphasize this in your essays and make sure its blatant enough for them to notice it.

By Lovetheriver (Lovetheriver) on Monday, March 15, 2004 - 08:50 pm: Edit

is the only place to indicate first generation on the biographical part (part I) of the app?

By Alex614 (Alex614) on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 08:37 pm: Edit

I hope being a first generation college bound student helps. No one in my family has ever gone to college. My parents didn't even receive a high school education.

By Milemarker7 (Milemarker7) on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 08:53 pm: Edit

It only helps when you're on the border. If you are being compared to a student who has your same characteristics, 1st generationism can put you over the top.

But besides that, it will never surpass the benefit of being a recruited minority.

By Alex614 (Alex614) on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 11:23 pm: Edit

Well, not only am I a first generation colleg bound student, but I'm also a minority.

By Haithman (Haithman) on Thursday, March 25, 2004 - 12:04 am: Edit

Yes me too Alex.

By Serdu (Serdu) on Thursday, March 25, 2004 - 12:07 am: Edit

Haha. That makes 3 of us.

By Mzhang23 (Mzhang23) on Thursday, March 25, 2004 - 12:07 am: Edit

I'm assuming being the first generation to go to college in the US helped me, too. A significant amount of Ivy League students are first gen students in an American college.

By Libsters (Libsters) on Thursday, March 25, 2004 - 12:15 am: Edit

Mzhang23 --- I don't think that helps at all. My parents are immigrants and went to college in another country ... This doesn't really help ... I am a first-generation American and all, but I don't think colleges really care. I didn't even say this in any of my apps, b/c my GC told me it didn't matter

By Patient (Patient) on Thursday, March 25, 2004 - 01:25 am: Edit

Just totally out of curiosity: if one parent is a first generation American who did not go to college and the other parent is an American college graduate--does it only count as a hook if neither parent went to college?

By Failure (Failure) on Friday, March 26, 2004 - 06:31 pm: Edit

For the most part, I don't think this is true. I'm a first generation asian college student, and I got rejected from Harvard and all the ivies I applied to. (1500+ SAT, 4.19 GPA, and all the other academics/EC's ivies look for) I'm thinking my essays or recommendations were not as good...

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