About Project Inspire / Scholarship Program

What first-generation college students need

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How we’re doing our part to support first-generation college students with research-driven practices, and how you can too!

If you had the opportunity to go to college, then you know that it is no easy endeavor. And research shows that for first-generation college students, the college experience can be even more challenging.

Years ago, we at Project Inspire decided to do something about this.

We connected with a very reputable foundation that does intense research on student success, and we asked them, what are the most critical pieces of what first-generation students need to be successful in college. 

Tonight, we’re hosting a pre-college kickoff for our scholarship recipients who are entering college this school year–this is an annual event we’ve been doing for years as a result of what we learned.

Here’s what that organization told us years ago.

They told us that research shows that first-generation college students benefit from additional support to thrive in college. Some best practices to equip them to succeed include:

1) Providing them with a peer support system throughout their time in college,
2) Having them identify what their greatest fears are about college and working through those fears,
3) Having them identify what their greatest challenges might be in college and having them work through those challenges,
4) And making sure they feel like they belong at their college and that they feel like they deserve to be there and are of significant value to their community.

We’re addressing all of the above with our scholarship recipients tonight, but there’s action you can take to support our youth when it comes to the factors above as well. 

Here’s what you can do to support a first-generation college student you know:

1. Be a part of a student’s village of support. Encourage them in an empowering way if even just occasionally or when you see them. Don’t belittle them even in jest. We don’t know what our students are already thinking about themselves that might make them feel small, and we don’t want to add to those negative self-perceptions.

2. If a student is willing to share their fears or challenges with you, acknowledge that the fear or challenge is real, help them analyze what they’re feeling, and help them to feel empowered even in the midst of those fears or challenges.

3. Help that student remember their value, capabilities, and power throughout their college experience. Most likely, some of their college experiences might have them questioning their direction, capabilities, value, potential, and power, and they may not share all of those experiences with you, but if you take steps to reinforce that student regularly, it could be a welcome reminder to that student now and in the future.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Whether or not you have college students in your circle, our hope is that information like this can help you to be even more of a social change agent in your family, community, and society as a whole!

Photo credit: Green Chameleon (Unsplash)

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