First Generation College Students: Internal and External Stressors

First Generation College Students: Internal and External Stressors

By Raichel Cochancela

First generation students enroll in college with the ultimate goal of becoming the first in their family to obtain a bachelor’s degree. According to the Pew Research Center, only 20% of individuals whose parents did not obtain further education after high school obtain a bachelor’s degree. Students whose parents lack college experience often do not receive help while navigating the college system. Naturally, questions emerge regrading financial aid, course registration, clubs, tutoring, etc. Not knowing how or who to ask these questions becomes overwhelming and creates excessive stress. The lack of knowledge about the resources available for guidance and always doubting your actions increases uncertainty. The pressure to succeed by becoming the first graduate among your family underlies the fear of failure. Uncertainty and fear of failure are internal stressors that are prevalent among first generation students. In addition, financial concerns are significant external stressors among first generation students. Most first generation students come from low income families and depend on loans and scholarships to continue their education. Not having the financial support necessary to solely focus on college requires many students to work, which creates additional stressors. Internal and external stressors can lead to psychological disorders. It is common for first generation students to not be diagnosed but suffer from depression and or anxiety. Hence, first generation students experience unique stressors that require social and emotional support. If you know of someone who is having trouble handling the stressors that come with being a first generation student you can encourage them to seek professional help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with first generation college student stressors please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Psychotherapy & Psychiatric Services. Contact our Manhattan, NY or Paramus, NJ offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit

Sources 2021/05/18/first-generation-college-graduates-lag-behind-their-peers-on-key-economic-outcomes/


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