For first-generation students, college and the financial aid process present a unique set of challenges--and institutions across the country are finding ways to help them succeed. A session on Wednesday morning focused on how institutions can help “First in Family” students develop a roadmap for college success, including lessons learned from several institutions who actively work with these students.
For example, Lafayette College in eastern Pennsylvania has started a pilot program for first-generation freshmen who are grouped together and provided campus contacts to help guide them through challenges they face. The school’s “success team” includes campus staff from the career center, admissions office, and a dean who focuses on first-year students. The 19 students participating in the program have the option of attending monthly meetings on topics like homesickness and resume building. They also have monthly check-ins with campus staff.
At the University of Mary Washington, there is a scholarship designed specifically for first-generation students that connects them with a faculty advisor, as well as the Rappahannock Scholars Program that promises four years of full tuition and fees to ninth graders from nearby high schools who commit to the institution and maintain a certain GPA. Mary Washington also has the Summer Transition Program, a five-week program for students who need additional support when they are first entering college. According to presenter Heidi Hunter-Goldsworthy, the school’s first-generation students who participate in these programs have higher retention rates than the overall student population, 82 percent compared with 71 percent.
Publication Date: 6/28/2017