Young adults who have no family to support them are among the most neglected members of our society. Whether they have experienced foster care or have a similarly complicated family history, frequent changes in placement in both homes and schools can set them up for a lifetime of disappointments, failures, and poor relationships. They don’t experience adults as consistently available people they can trust. They reach young adulthood with no money, no reliable adult to “back them up,” and no plan for their future.
When these young people have the opportunity to attend college, they can potentially beat the odds. But admission to college is not enough. Many don’t have the supports necessary to succeed once in college. Students who have the grit, talent, and perseverance to gain admittance to college are often seen as having “made it.” In reality, they are entering a challenging social system. They often don’t know how to share their story or develop trusting relationships. Financial, food, and healthcare insecurity create further complications.
While students without families to support them face challenges similar to those faced by first-generation college students, they require greater attention and support to move from operating in survival mode to full participation in college life. Additionally, these students often need basic supplies for their dorm rooms and their classroom work, and they need places to visit during school vacations and in the summer.