As college has become more accessible, thousands of young people have opted to continue their education beyond high school. For some, the dream of a college degree is attainable in a way that wasn’t for their parents. But what is a first-generation college student?
Who is a First-Generation College Student?
As high school students approach graduation, they must consider what their next steps will be. Will they jump directly into the workforce? Opt for additional vocational training? Go to college? There are a lot of factors that go into this decision, and some students choose higher education.
The college experience is different for everyone. It can be especially challenging for those whose families have little to no familiarity with college life. Because college has become more accessible, more than half of the students on college campuses can be considered first-generation college students.
Definitions can vary from school to school, but in general, a first-generation college student is an individual whose parents do not have a bachelor’s degree. This can include parents who attended college but did not complete their degree program as well as parents who never stepped onto a college campus as a student.
Identifying First-Generation College Students
First-generation college students may need more assistance in adjusting to college life, and Student Support Services can help. The services and guidance provided by SSS can help first-gens to acclimate to campus life, but first, you must reach them.
Many first-generation college students are unaware that help is available, or even that they are part of a specific demographic. The college application process typically enables schools to identify first-gen students by including questions on their application regarding parental college degrees. The data collected during this process often goes no further, however.
For first-gen students, simply arriving on a college campus can feel like the attainment of a goal. Many have worked diligently to get to this place in their lives. However, without the guidance of family members who have traveled this path before them, college life can be more challenging than anticipated. Four or more years spent in pursuit of a degree can feel like a long grind because they do not know what to expect. The goal of earning a degree is a very different goal, indeed.
Identifying first-gen students and encouraging them to connect with SSS begins with education. Reaching out to students at orientation and through on-campus marketing can help them to recognize their unique status. Be specific about how your school defines “first-generation” and include that in your outreach efforts. First-year students, in particular, will benefit from the additional support that SSS provides.
Incentives for First-Generation College Students
With the wide variety of academic and social activities that college offers, it can be difficult to hold the attention of busy students. Make your SSS program stand out by offering unique incentives that students will perceive as valuable.
Encourage engagement in your SSS program by recognizing students for participating in your program’s offerings. A simple points system, paired with incentives, can build engagement with your program. Simplify the process by going digital – Trio Perks software can make it easy to track student participation in your program. Simply scan a student ID or access the software’s web portal to award points. These points accumulate in the student’s account and can be redeemed for incentives within your program.
We’d love to show you how Trio Perks can give your Student Support Services program an edge! Simply request a demo to learn more!