Review: First in the Family 2

“You definitely feel conflicted when you stand out in a group, and you’re
going through different experiences. You feel a little bit discouraged. But
if you already stand out, you might as well shine. ” Maly, p. 74

First in the Family: Advice about College from First-Generation Students – Your College Years by Kathleen Cushman.
Next Generation Press, Providence, Rhode Island, 2006.
Available online at
Accessed in February and March of 2018.
Nonfiction, 124 pages (68 PDF pages).
NOTE: Sequel to First in the Family – Your High School Years, which I reviewed back in January.

This book gives encouragement and advice to students who may be the first in their families to attend college.  It includes many personal stories and quotations from students who have similar journeys.

First in the Family 2

This short book is aimed at encouraging teens from minority groups (or who are economically disadvantaged) to persevere in college.  When no family members or friends have attended college, students can find themselves at yet another disadvantage as they have no guide to help them navigate college classes or culture.  This book is here to help, with stories and tips from real students who have made it through part or all of college although they were the first in their families.

As with the previous volume, the students are from a variety of backgrounds, including white, black, Hispanic, Native, Asian, Middle Eastern, immigrant, unemployed, working full time to support a family, nontraditional students, high school dropout, and they attend a variety of schools including community college, state university, private college, or nontraditional blended school.

I really liked that this volume gave a picture and brief bio of each of the students in the back, especially since there were no photos in the chapters of this one.  This volume also integrated the worksheets into the end of each chapter nicely.

On the other hand, I was not fond of the way the PDF was formatted.  It was done in a side-by-side two page layout which was not readable on any device I own other than a computer.  Hence why it took me fairly long to read a pretty short book.  However, it was also free, so I appreciate not having to pay list price to read this book.

While I was lucky enough to have family members who attended college before me, I still could have used some of the advice in this book!  The freshman advisers I had were not overly helpful, causing me to take three classes I could easily have passed over with a much cheaper CLEP test and to waste time and money on a challenging course which was intended for upperclassmen.  It also took me a while to learn to purchase used textbooks, share them with friends, borrow one from the instructor, or for some classes use the book from the library.

While this book is no longer in print, I would still suggest getting a copy for any school or classroom library where some of your students are first in the family.  Some children might not have good internet access or feel comfortable approaching the guidance counselors without encouragement.  This book would be great for college students or even high school seniors.  It could be especially powerful as an high school graduation or freshman orientation gift. 


Author: colorfulbookreviews

I work in a library by day and parent the rest of the time. I am passionate about good books representing the full spectrum of human diversity for every age group and reading level. This blog is my attempt to help parents, educators, and librarians find the best children's books authored by or featuring characters of color.

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