Against All Odds: Increasing College Access & Retention for First Generation Students

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Krystal Ferguson, Hobsons K-12 Consultant, presents on the unique challenges that first-generation and minority students face in enrolling and persisting in college. Krystal also discusses strategies for school systems to best support these students to reach their post-secondary goals.

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  • I'd like it if this presentation gave some explanations as to why first gen are less likely to graduate on time, why they easily feel overwhelmed, and so on. This is not just an issue of race, it's an economic issue, and the stress of working full-time and going to school would make anyone feel out of control. Also, what can we as a society do to improve these situations. Yes, schools can implement programs, but society should expect more of low-income students. This is the problem with learned helplessness.
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Against All Odds: Increasing College Access & Retention for First Generation Students

  1. 1. Against All Odds: Increasing College Access & Retention for First Generation Students Krystal Ferguson K-12 Senior Consultant
  2. 2. Krystal Ferguson is a K-12 Senior Consultant at Hobsons. Krystal received her Bachelors from James Madison University. She is currently pursing her master’s degree in Minority and Urban Education at the University of Maryland-College Park. Since joining the Naviance Professional Services team in October 2010, Krystal has assisted individual schools and school districts effectively implement Naviance at their schools to increase college and career readiness.
  3. 3. Problem? What Problem?
  4. 4. 4 Black, Latino and American Indian Freshmen Complete College at Lower Rates Than Other Students 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 4 Years 5 Years 6 Years GraduationRates(%) Four-, Five-, and Six-Year Degree Attainment Rates by Race/Ethnicity Black American Indian Asian Latino White Source: DeAngelo, L., Franke, R., Hurtado,S., Pryor, J.H., & Tran,S. (2011). Completing college: Assessing graduation rates at four year institutions. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.
  5. 5. Only 30% of the adult population in the US have a college degree Source: Educational Attainment. (n.d.). in the United States: 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2014, from http://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/ education/data/cps/2012/tables.html
  6. 6. 6 Degree Attainment by Race/Ethnicity 19% 12% 37% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% Black Hispanic White Percent between the ages of 25 and 29 with a college degree Source: DeAngelo, L., Franke, R., Hurtado,S., Pryor, J.H., & Tran,S. (2011). Completing college: Assessing graduation rates at four year institutions. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.
  7. 7. Things aren’t going well…
  8. 8. 8 Who are our students? 50% enrolled are first- generation students Lynch, M. (2013). It's Tough to Trailblaze: Challenges of First-Generation College Students. Diverse in Higher Education. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://diverseeducation.com/article/50898/ Minority students make up the largest demographics of first-generation students 27% of first-generation students graduate within 4 years
  9. 9. Graduated within: 4 Years 5 Years 6 Years First-Generation Students 27% 45% 50% Students Whose Parents Attended College 42% 60% 64% 9 The 2011 UCLA Study Found That: First Generation College Students Graduation Rates. (n.d.). Concordia University's Online Education Degrees. Retrieved February 12, 2014, from http://education.cu- portland.edu/blog/reference-material/first-generation-college-students-graduation-rates/
  10. 10. So, what should we know? “As educators, we do these students no great favor should they become—out of our own awareness— confused, frightened, and alienated, only to drift away and drop out. If we…mean for them to stay and not become attrition statistics, we need a keener understanding of the sensibilities and concerns they bring with them and of the difficulties they encounter along the way” (London, 1989, p.118)
  11. 11. Be from low-income families Be members of racial or ethnic minority groups particularly Hispanic or African American Have lower college entrance examinations Lack support from those at home including family and friends 11 First Generation (FG) Students Tend To: Shelton, C. (2011). Helping first-generation college students succeed. Journal of Psychological Issues in Organizational Culture, 1(4), 63-75.
  12. 12. Inadequate of Preparation - Theoretical (formal/book) knowledge - Heuristic (campus specific) knowledge Cultural Adaption Financial Awareness 12 Challenges Impacting FG Students
  13. 13. Lack of Preparation Not taking high school courses that are rigorous enough Lack important study and time management skills Experience more difficulty navigating the administrative aspects of academic life (i.e. registering for classes, meeting with advisors, choosing a major) Engle, J. (2007). Postsecondary Access and Success for First-Generation College Students. American Academic, 25-48. 13 Challenges Impacting FG Students
  14. 14. Cultural Adaption Cultural Shock/Stress Feelings of isolation and alienation Less likely to socialize with faculty or students outside of class More likely to feel overwhelmed or depressed Engle, J. (2007). Postsecondary Access and Success for First-Generation College Students. American Academic, 25-48.14 Challenges Impacting FG Students
  15. 15. Financial Awareness Ability to pay for college greatly affects whether and how students interact with their college environment Lack of parental support Stress of attempting to balance a job and academics Engle, J. (2007). Postsecondary Access and Success for First-Generation College Students. American Academic, 25-48. 15 Challenges Impacting FG Students
  16. 16. So, what can we do?
  17. 17. Identify First Generation Students Improve Pre-College Preparation Increase Student Engagement Engle, J. (2007). Postsecondary Access and Success for First-Generation College Students. American Academic, 25-48.17 Recommendations
  18. 18. Survey students to learn about their backgrounds and assess their postsecondary goals Help to form early aspirations and plans for college Early outreach to students and parents with information about the importance of postsecondary education Engle, J. (2007). Postsecondary Access and Success for First-Generation College Students. American Academic, 25-48. 18 Identify First Generation Students
  19. 19. Provide information about the gateway courses to college Broaden exposure to and engagement with the college environment (i.e. web tours, promoting college visits) Test Prep Volunteer services & enrichment programs Mentoring 19 Improve Pre-College Preparation
  20. 20. Connect learning and life Get creative to make the experience: - Relevant - Fun - Challenging Promote critical thinking and team work Create incentives for students Engle, J. (2007). Postsecondary Access and Success for First-Generation College Students. American Academic, 25-48.20 Increase Student Engagement

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