There’s a really nice piece in “The New York Times” today about first-generation college students. The piece, written by Elizabeth A. Harris and entitled “‘I Won’t Give Up’: How First-Generation Students See College” features the stories of first-generation college students — interviewed by five first-generation college students studying journalism. First-generation college students are one of the most coveted groups of college admissions officers at highly selective colleges. After all, these young people will be the fist in their families to receive college educations and American universities love to facilitate upward mobility in our nation. Think about it. Wouldn’t it give you goosebumps to admit a student to a highly selective college whose parents were never educated beyond high school? Admissions officers are given the chance in these instances to help young people fulfill the American Dream for their families. It’s a rather extraordinary power.
Highly selective colleges indeed compete against one another to lure first-generation college students to apply — and ultimately matriculate if admitted. As you’ll note in the vast majority of press releases at Ivy League schools in which admissions offices tout the demographic profiles of their incoming classes, the percentage of first-generation college students so often gets a mention. At Brown University, for the Class of 2021, 14% of admitted students would be the first in their families to attend college. At Dartmouth College, over 10% of admitted students this year are first-generation. 12.5% of admits to the University of Pennsylvania qualify as first-generation college students. At Princeton University, the same statistic is nearly 20%. 20%! That’s truly extraordinary.
Highly selective colleges are right to boast about the percentage of admitted students who will be the first in their families to attend college. There are so many demographic data points these schools can cite in their press releases about their incoming classes but one data point that so often makes an appearance is the percentage of first-generation college students. We at Ivy Coach salute these schools for the emphasis they place on admitting these young people. And kudos in particular to Princeton University for admitting so many first in their families to attend college that this group constituted 20% of all their admits.