The Truth About First Generation Students

The Truth About First Generation Students

It is estimated that nearly 50% of students are the first in their family to study at university. 


Studying Abroad and becoming an International student is a feat in itself, but having the courage to take the leap into higher education comes with it's own challenges that Friesland Collective hopes to shed a light on.

This week we're interviewing Bryony-Ellen Young, a recent Law graduate who just finished her Bachelors degree at the University of East London in the United Kingdom.

"Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’re studying?"

So my name is Byrony-Ellen and I'm studying Law, well I studied Law. I just finished my last exams but I won't technically graduate until July. I was born and raised in Dorset (about 2 1/2 hours outside of London) but I moved to London for university. I've wanted to move to here since I was 15 but I also wanted a university that had a campus, unlike many London unis, which is why I chose my school.       


"What made you decide to go to university?"

Well I started to consider uni while I was doing my GCSE's (high school). I always loved learning and taking notes which I guess led me to decide to do Law (also because I was always told I was bossy lol). If it wasn't Law it would probably be English Lit, but I kinda fell in love with Law at A levels which is what drove to me to my decision to go to university. I knew university would be a challenge, but this never stopped me. 

"How did your parents react to your decision to get a higher education as the first in your family?"

I don't remember their exact reaction but I knew my Mom always knew university was on my mind, and that I would be the first in the family to go. My older brother knew university wasn't for him, he's 2 years older but he's very proud of me as well. My grandfather decided to go for a job in insurance over university which I'm guessing you didn't need a degree for at the time and my grandmother was never pushed to it. But overall the support from my family definitely made the whole process easier. 

What is a common stereotype of First Generations and how do you hope it can change in the future?

I think people assume "First Gens" are not as prepared for university, which is a perspective I really hope will change in the future because we are all capable of succeeding in higher education. Being a first gen student didn’t really affect my experience as a student and in all honesty I've never thought of myself that way. It was more just something I was doing, and I always told myself I'm at the same starting point as everyone else. I will admit I was a bit lonely at the start of university though, I guess just because I was so focused on the academic aspects I didn't focus too much on the social. I struggled with a lot of homesickness after the initial move, but after the first couple months it would become a lot easier. 

"What do you hope to do with your degree?"

I definitely want to use my degree in the NGO/Charity sector. I've always been interested in charities, and been very politically engaged, especially with current events so it's the perfect fit for me really. 

"What's a piece of advice you can give to First Generation Students?" 

Don’t give yourself too high expectations. You'll learn on the go so don't stress, it's all apart of life.