Peers Providing Support to Vulnerable First-generation Students

First-generation college students are getting help to succeed on campus from an unlikely source: one another.

A growing number of colleges and universities are accelerating efforts to identify, recruit, retain, graduate and track the professional success of students who are the first in their families to attend college. The Institute for Higher Education Policy noted research that shows that greater involvement from the faculty and continuous one-on-one faculty mentoring relationships with first-generation students are critical to their college success.

While no one tracks nationally how many first-generation students enter college each year, there’s evidence their ranks are surging, said University of Pennsylvania higher education professor Marybeth Gasman, who heads the Center for Minority Serving Institutions at Penn.

Most first-generation college students are low-income, minority or children of immigrants, said Gasman, who has authored a number of studies and books on colleges and universities that largely serve Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, African-Americans and other students of color. From 1980 to 2011, total undergraduate enrollment increased 73 percent, according to the U. S. Department of Education. During that same period, minority enrollment rose 300 percent. At the same time, the United States is rapidly headed toward becoming a majority minority nation. <Read more.>

Via Geri Coleman Tucker, Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

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