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WHY FIRST GENERATION STUDENTS

Personal Interest Experience as a (kind of) first generation student (FGS) Ongoing Professional Interest Observed deficit of current literature and documented best practice concerning a category that collects many other categories of difference Correspondence with Current Experience Frustrations with a summer internship project related to FGS Potential Importance In Connection: Legal Issues & Diversity, in Higher Education Recent legal precedent indicates the need to consider alternatives to race conscious affirmative action strategies in the near future
(Fisher v. Univ. of Texas, 2013; Gratz v. Bollinger, 2003; Grutter v. Bollinger, 2003, U. of California v. Bakke, 1996 )

CURRENT LITTERATURE: WHAT WE KNOW


We know that FGS bring many assets that can help them in their endeavors in higher education with them to college

They take pride in or are motivated to achieve by their status as the first in the family to attend college They tend to be proactive, goal directed, optimistic, and reflexive They possess strengths of resourcefulness, strategic thinking, selfreliance, practical realism, flexibility, persistence, positivity, hopefulness, self-confidence, insightfulness, compassion, gratitude and balance They appreciate and are motivated by the emotional encouragement they receive from their family
Most research is rooted in deficit approach

(Garrison and Gardner, 2012; Nixon,

CURRENT LITERATURE: WHAT WE KNOW


Reported number of FGS enrolled over the last 30 years have varied widely (from 22-47%) but are believed to be on the up trend. Whatever the specific number, evidence supports FGS representing a significant portion of the student body.

FGS students are more likely to follow nontraditional enrollment patterns FGS students are more likely to experience environmental pull from responsibilities outside the scope of the typical college environment More likely to have higher expectations from and more connected to home for a variety of reasons FGS students are at risk when it comes to persistence and degree attainment based on pre-college characteristics that place them behind their non-FGS peers in the categories of academic background and cultural capital

(Renn and Reason, 2013; Ward, Siegel, and Davenport, 2012)

CURRENT LITERATURE: WHAT WE KNOW


Academic Background More likely to be underprepared for the level & rigor of college course work Less likely to have high academic self efficacy Less likely to have high educational aspirations Less likely to seek academic help

Cultural Capital Less likely to develop relationships with faculty and advisors Less likely to have experienced socialization to college culture prior to arrival Less able to rely on important others (family) for help navigating environment More likely to be susceptible to inaccurate media portrayals of college Have less accurate expectations about role and life as college student

(Nixon, 2011; Renn and Reason, 2013; Ward, Siegel, and Davenport, 2012)

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT MACALESTER


Macalester (Mac) has transformed drastically since the late 1980s and early 1990s

Historically, the student body at Mac was more local, less selective, and included more students of underrepresented racial and ethnic background which would likely mean higher numbers of FGS
Contemporary Mac recruits nationally, is considered highly selective, and has fewer students from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds, all of which would indicate fewer FGS Demographics seem to have increased as proportionally as class size has increased over the last fifteen years

(Macalester,2012; Personal Communication. Robin HartRuthenbeck, July 2013; Personal Communication. Chris Macdonald-Dennis, July 2013; Personal Communication. Sedric McClure, July 2013)

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT MACALESTER


Mac began tracking enrollment data on FGS in Fall 2012 semester There is some qualitative data from focus groups conducted within the past two years that FGS indicate; salience of identity and a lack of space to discuss shared experiences

Prior to this year, there has been no programming, resources, or services offered during Orientation, Welcome Week, or First Year Course (FYC) program Macs Orientation program is an intensive 5 day long experience Macs FYC program allows students to select content based on interest but places them in a writing and discussion intensive seminar style course to acculturate them to the academic expectations of the College This year there will be one 45 minute session, titled New to College, targeted to reach FGS and families on the first day of their Orientation program Introductory presentation by one or two staff members; perhaps including a student voice via a facilitated Q & A

(Kuh et al., 2010; Edwards et al., 2013)

RECOMMENDATIONS
Begin at the beginning- Orientation New to College: a nugget to build on Alter time and structure Inclusive of families Normalize cultural shift and feeling the pull from home Include discussion of strengths and resources Expand to include connections to faculty and staff who identify as former FGS Include current and former student and parent perspectives Have key staff, faculty and advisors on hand to encourage relationships Create resources that explain important aspects of Mac without institutional jargon and that draw connections and parallels between home and college

RECOMMENDATIONS
Develop FGS identity based group Continue providing space for discussion and other resources throughout the first year at least Introduce academic and cultural intervention Consider developing peer mentoring capacity based on student feedback Conduct Assessment Conduct campus climate survey and include FGS status in demographics studied Continue and expand assessment related to FGS Expand enrollment statistics Gather qualitative data via motivation interviewing

REFERENCE
Edwards, K. (2013). Community Learning Model. Unpublished Manuscript Garrison, N. J., & Gardner, D. S. (2012). Assets First Generation College Students Bring to the Higher Education Setting. Online Submission. Kahlenberg, R. (2012). A New Kind of Affirmative Action Can Ensure Diversity. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/A-New-Kind-of-Affirmative/134840/ Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., & Whitt, E. J. (2010). Student success in college: Creating conditions that matter. John Wiley & Sons. Macalester (2012) Macalester College Fact Book. Macalester College. Retrieved from http://www.macalester.edu/ir/private/a_freshretent.pdf Stoll, E. (2012) First-Generation College Students: Navigating the Worlds of School and Home. Journal of College Orientation and Transition, 20(2) Ward, L., Siegel, M. J., & Davenport, Z. (2012). First-generation College Students: Understanding and Improving the Experience from Recruitment to Commencement. Wiley. com.