‘First Generation’ Chronicles Students’ Difficult Path to College

Ann McClure's picture

The college admissions process can be confusing on its own, but the missteps are multiplied, it seems, when a young applicant looks around and can find no relatives who’ve ever been through it.

In the documentary “First Generation,” which had its New York City premiere at New York University on Wednesday night, four such teenagers forge their way to become the first in their families to go to college. The film, narrated by Blair Underwood, chronicles the actions and anxieties of these diverse students, all living in California, from their junior year, when the college admissions process begins in presumptive earnest, until they are freshmen in college.

The makers of the film are Adam and Jaye Fenderson, a married couple who said that they found it difficult not to help the students they were covering.

“We actually made a decision when we started thinking about the film that we were not going to intervene in the students’ lives,” Mr. Fenderson said. “It was very difficult to sit there and listen to them talk about what their counselor told them when we knew that it was wrong. It was difficult to even sit in some of the counselor meetings and hear the counselors be so brief and quick with these students and these students not get answers that they really needed.”

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