First-in-family students: Pioneering the path to higher education

27 Sep 2023

First-in-family students are diverse. They vary in age, background, and life experience; but they share a common aspiration to attain a higher education, despite the fact that no one in their family has done it before.

We at CUC Bass Coast are incredibly proud of our first-in-family students, as they face some added challenges that other students do not.

One of our CUC students, Lauren Pendlington, recently graduated with a Bachelor of Psychological Science. She was first in her family to attend university and attests to the additional barriers first-in-family students face:

“Being first in family meant I didn’t have anyone who could fully relate to the decision I was making to study, or to empathise with me and understand what it was like to undertake university level study. Neither of my parents finished high school. Neither myself or my two younger brothers finished high school. I never thought any of us would attend university – there was just never any influence in the family to do so.”

Being THE first can also come with immense responsibility which puts pressure on students to succeed in order to set a good example. Lauren agrees, stating “I think being first in family, I felt like I had something to prove which made me work harder.”

It is an amazing achievement that Lauren finished her course with an impressive 6.1/7 GPA. This year she plans on completing Psychological Science Honours.

Attending university often opens the door to better job prospects and higher earning potential. For first-generation students, this means not only achieving personal success but also potentially breaking free from the cycle of inequality. The power of education to uplift entire families and communities cannot be underestimated.

More than half our students at CUC Bass Coast are the first in their families to attend university, which is an exciting statistic for our local area. Lauren has an admirable, community-driven goal:

“I want to be able to improve the mental health outcomes in my community and to work in health policy to ensure consumers in regional areas are comprehensively supported!”

Lauren has also been able to give her younger sisters invaluable guidance and advice about their next steps and university options. First-in-family students, like Lauren, are paving the way for the next generation which is an exciting change to see in the community.

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