10 things to consider about first-generation students

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First-generation UChicago at November 18 event with Kevin Jennings.

A few weeks ago Kevin Jennings, the founder of the Harvard First Generation Alumni group and mentoring program, came to the University of Chicago to give a talk about first-gen students at selective colleges. Based on the talk, I made this list of the top 10 things people should consider about first-gen students, particularly at more selective colleges.

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Why schools should have a Class Awareness Month

Stanford Class Awareness Week in 2012.
Stanford Class Awareness Week in 2012.

Columbia University’s Quest Scholars Network put a spin on November, dubbing it “Class Awareness Month.” Throughout the month of November and the end of October, Quest Scholars and various other campus organizations presented several events related to socioeconomic background on campus.

The conversations ranged from open conversations on the low-income student experience to discussions about social class in Africa. With a growing push to get low-income students to elite colleges, students have started to raise awareness about the barriers they face once at these colleges. Stanford University’s student group also dedicates a week to class issues in the spring. The more students talk about these issues, the more administrators will take notice of an invisible minority. Continue reading

UChicago first-generation and low-income students gaining momentum

Chicago Maroon article about new first-generation mentoring program.
Chicago Maroon article published about new first-generation mentoring program.

Last week, the Socioeconomic Diversity Alliance (SDA), the student group for low-income and first-generation students at UChicago, hosted a talk by Kevin Jennings. Jennings founded the Harvard First Generation Alumni group and mentoring program. Bringing a wealth of knowledge as a first-generation student himself, Jennings led a dynamic discussion about what elite colleges can do for first-gen students. A few college administrators attended the talk as well, which shows interest at the institutional level. The Chicago Maroon, the student newspaper, wrote an article about the event for last week’s Friday edition.

For this week’s Tuesday edition of the Chicago Maroon, two articles were written about separate SDA efforts. One mentioned the launching of a first-generation mentoring program out of the Office of the Dean of Students. The mentoring program will match 1st year, first-generation students with local alumni who were first-generation students themselves. The article mentions the work of SDA focus groups being the inspiration for the development of the mentoring program.

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First-Gen Program Highlight: Scripps College

The First-Generation @ Scripps Program serves students who are the first to attend a 4-year college. Image. Image via Student Affairs and the Office of the Dean of Students.
The First Generation @ Scripps Program serves students who are the first in their family to attend a 4-year college. Photo via First Generation @ Scripps Program website.

As a first-year at Scripps College, Melissa Mesinas ’12 struggled to adjust academically to a rigorous institution. Getting used to reading hundreds of pages every week was a challenge, but she was afraid of telling anyone that she was struggling.

It wasn’t until later that she started to sense that her first-generation identity had much to do with her trouble acclimating to Scripps. She started to wonder, “Why isn’t there formal support for first-generation students?”

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First-generation Student Links

October 7, 2014As QuestBridge expands at Columbia, scholars see community as essential support network by Giulia Olsson

This article discusses the role of Questbridge on the Columbia University campus and the support for low-income students.

October 7, 2014SOLIS: A New Support Group for Low-Income Students by Leon Chen

The new group for low-income students at Swarthmore has gotten some attention from their school newspaper. I’ll be dedicating a separate post to Swarthmore students sometime soon.

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