Addressing the Needs of First-Generation Students
Addressing the Needs of First-Generation StudentsLiam Julian, Director, Communications
“Diverse Perspectives on First-Generation Students,” a Wednesday afternoon panel discussion at the Middle States Regional Forum in Baltimore, addressed issues and challenges related to students who are the first in their families to attend college.
Maria Adams Davidson of Montgomery College began by speaking about the unique situation of community colleges, like her own, which enroll substantial numbers of first-generation students. Among Montgomery’s initiatives to support these students is its data-driven Student Success Score Card, a set of indicators that tracks academic achievement and then provides actionable information to improve individual student outcomes.
Khristina Gonzalez, from Princeton University, talked about her school’s Freshman Scholars Institute, a seven-week summer program that gives 80 incoming students, many of whom are the first in their families to go to college, the opportunity to experience the intellectual and social life of college before the fall semester begins. Kevin Hudson, also from Princeton, noted that the Freshman Scholars Institute and a number of other initiatives at the university seek to answer the same core question: “How do high-achieving, low-income or first-generation college students develop the social capital and cultural capital required to thrive?”
Tevera Stith, who runs the KIPP Through College program for KIPP DC, a network of high-performing Washington charter schools, emphasized the importance of focusing on college completion at all levels of education. “At KIPP schools,” Stith said, “what it takes to get a student through college is everybody’s business.” It’s not enough, she continued, to celebrate when a first-generation student is accepted to college — it’s important to remain engaged with such students, and to help and encourage them to finish what they’ve started. “We have it written all over the walls at our schools,” she said. “Finish, finish, finish.”