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What Do First Gen Students Say About Their Campus Experiences?

Last week we celebrated First Gen Student Day. In honor of this important day, our data team took a deep dive into first gen student responses to key proactive check-ins from their institution’s Adaptive AI bot.

Partner institutions who identify (tag) first generation students in their EdSights dashboard gain meaningful, and unmatched, insight into first generation persistence insights. They have visibility into how these students are responding to proactive outreach via institutionally-driven SMS text messages. Recent data from these institutions indicates that first generation students are up to ten percent more at risk of not persisting than their peers.

Building a First Generation Student Support System

With midterms approaching, students are entering what our research framework defines as the Adjustment Phase. To best support these students we ask a simple yet critical question. If they have an issue, do they have someone to reach out to at the institution?

Students who do not respond positively to this prompt are automatically connected to counseling resources on campus or other helpful resources the institution offers to ensure they are supported. Additionally, they are automatically flagged for follow up for the institution’s support team.

Over 40% of first generation students responded that they do not always feel like they have someone to reach out to. This once again is nearly 10 percentage points higher than their peers.

First Gen Parallels to Other Unique Populations

Earlier this semester we reported less than half of Hispanic students indicating excitement to kick off the semester. Given that Latinos are more likely to be first generation students than any other racial or ethnic group; a lack of enthusiasm combined with a lack of the feeling of support can have dire consequences.

Much like supporting all key drivers can have a positive impact on overall mental health, setting up programs to support first generation students will have a positive impact on the broader campus community as a whole.

Supporting First Generation Student Success

In addition to proactively communicating the availability of counseling services to students who do not feel they have a support system on campus, Inside Higher Ed recently outlined policies and practices to help first generation college students succeed. Among them are practices that yield benefits across campus including parental involvement in support of their sense of belonging, teaching study skills to support academic engagement and fostering a sense of community by effectively promoting certain campus activities and events.

The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative by NASPA and the Suder Foundation, provides a wealth of resources and programs in support of first generation student success. We encourage you to review and leverage them when working to support first generation students on your campus.


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