WAUKESHA, WIS.— Only 24 percent of first-generation college students nationwide succeed in earning a bachelor’s degree compared to 68 percent of students whose parents went to college, reports the U.S. Department of Education.
First-generation students face many challenges. They are more likely than their peers to come from low-income families, come from a home where English is a second language, and come from rural communities. About 40 percent are students of color. Compared to students whose parents attended college, first-generation students often are not as well prepared academically, lack support from family members, and are less prepared to find and use financial aid information.
Once they are enrolled, first-generation students are more likely to attend part-time, to take one or more remedial courses, to work at paid jobs more hours per week, to live off-campus, and to earn slightly lower first-year GPAs. They also typically spend less time studying, interact less with faculty and their peers, and participate less in co-curricular activities, athletics and volunteer work. They are far more likely to drop out after the first year.
Carroll University is committed to making a difference for these students. In 2008, Carroll received a $100,000 grant from the Council of Independent Colleges/Walmart Foundation College Success Awards program to enhance its First-Generation Student Success Program to attract, retain, educate and graduate first-generation college students.
As one of 50 colleges and universities that received funding, Carroll University is included in a new report on Best Practices for Ensuring the Academic Success of First-Generation College Students. The companion website, www.cic.edu/CollegeSuccessAwards, is a resource for other institutions that are interested in starting or improving programs and services for first-generation college students. Additionally, Carroll will participate in the CIC/Walmart College Success Awards Program Symposium on First-Generation College Students July 7-9, 2014, in Baltimore, Md.
The strategy implemented by Carroll University began with a new Director of Student Success to oversee programming and monitor results with a Retention Management System. Scholarship support for first-generation students and admission outreach activities attracted new students to Carroll and improved their access to a college education. Providing social activities, ongoing advising by peer and staff mentors, and academic support services helped these students succeed.
As a result of these efforts, the program achieved improved academic performance and retention of first-generation students at Carroll. Their grade point averages increased, even above the university’s average. An 83 percent retention rate exceeded the institution’s average, and exceeded the program goal. Carroll University also has received grant funding from other government and foundation sources that build upon the programs established by the Office of Student Success.
For an overview of Carroll’s best practices, visit http://www.cic.edu/Programs-and-Services/Programs/Walmart-College-Success/Pages/Program-Carroll.aspx
About Carroll University
Carroll, Wisconsin’s oldest four-year institution of higher learning, is an independent, co-educational comprehensive university grounded in the liberal arts tradition. Incorporated in 1846, it offers bachelor’s degrees in 57 majors and master’s degrees in business administration, education, exercise physiology, graphic communication, nursing, physician assistant studies and software engineering, as well as a clinical doctorate in physical therapy. More information is available at www.carrollu.edu.
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts. By operating globally and giving back locally, Walmart is uniquely positioned to address the needs of the communities it serves and make a significant social impact within its core areas of giving: Hunger Relief and Nutrition, Sustainability, Career Opportunity and Women’s Economic Empowerment. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are leading the fight against hunger in the United States with a $2 billion commitment through 2015. Walmart has donated more than one billion meals to those in need across the country. To learn more about Walmart’s giving, visit foundation.walmart.com.