JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s the 55th anniversary of the Higher Education Act signed back in 1965– over time, it has created resources for many to be the first in their family to attend college.
We spoke to some students who are the first in their family to go to college at Missouri Southern State University to see what the experience is like.
Taylor Boyett, Nursing Student, said, “They always wanted me to go on towards college, they wanted both of my brothers to, but neither of them was interested, and so I’m the first kid in their family to be going to college.”
Taylor Boyett, is one of the first in her family to go to college.
“She was like ‘You know what, if you pass the entrance test, you can do whatever you want,’ expecting me not to pass it. I passed it, she ate her words and I took my first public speaking class and english class that semester.”
Neither of her parents went to college, her dad chose to start his own business without even finishing high school and her mom didn’t finish more than a semester of college. But, it made them both want their children to attend, first, one of Taylor’s brothers went to community college and Taylor was soon to follow.
“I was 13 about to turn 14, and I turned to my mom and said ‘I wanna go to community college too.”
This isn’t a rare story, according to the U.S. Department of Education, 33% of higher education students are the first in their family to attend college.
Dr. Debbie Fort, Director of Project Stay, said, “If you haven’t had anyone in your family go to college, you don’t really have anyone to provide you guidance.”
These types of students have to struggle with making their own paths.
“As hardworking as they are, they didn’t have like ‘This is how you study, this is how you succeed in college, this is what we learned from our experience,’ they don’t have that,” said Boyett
Now with graduation right around the corner, Taylor is seeing how her hard work —- and her parents hard work is paying off.
“As much as I’m proud of myself, I’m just excited to see that from them, knowing that they did good in how they raised me, they taught me how to learn and things like that, that’s honestly the thing I look most forward to.”
MSSU programs like Project Stay act as a lifeline for many first generation students. Their goal is to help those students find scholarships and navigate their college career since they’re the first ones in their families to be experiencing it.