Parents, teachers and the media have hammered home the message for decades: To succeed in life, you need an education.
And kids listened. College enrollment has never been higher, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
But as more young people move beyond high school, the unique challenges that often face first-generation college students are becoming more apparent. A 2010 NCES study found a wide gap in the graduation rates between four-year students whose parents earned degrees (69 percent) and those whose parents never went to college (40 percent).
(In most circles, a first-generation student is defined as one who had neither parent graduate from a four-year school. Income, race and ethnicity are not factors.)