Diversity, First Generation Students

Taking a College Tour as a First-Generation Student

No Comments 14 April 2017

As a first-generation college student, a campus visit is a vital part of the college process. This will be your first opportunity to get a taste of what life is like on that campus. Make sure you ask the right questions so you are truly informed. Here are some topics to hit on during your college admissions tour.

Prepare Ahead of Time

As a first-generation student, you might fall in a minority of incoming college students. That means that the campus visit might not be tailored to someone like you. Make a list of questions ahead of time so that you can find out about information that is important to you. Your tour guide is a current student on the campus and they will be a great resource for any questions you may have,

On-Campus Resources

Being the first in your family to attend college can be overwhelming, so it would be a good idea to find support services geared toward students like you. Statistics show that first-generation students often need more support because most do not have parental support. Ask your tour guide to put you in touch with an admissions counselor so you can ask about programs, guides or other resources for first-generation students.

Financial Aid

The price of college can be shocking to first-generation students. You need to make sure you can afford the college you want to attend. Try to tailor your campus visit so it is focused more on financial aid and not just admissions. Find time to meet with a financial aid counselor who can explain every fee that goes into the cost of attendance and any financial aid options that might be available to you.

Seek Out the True Freshman Year Experience

As a first-generation student, you won’t have the wisdom of you parents to share what the first year of college is really like. Admissions tours typically cover new and state-of-the-art buildings on campus, which freshmen typically do not spend time in. Ask your tour guide to show you building where you will actually have classes. If it’s possible, ask in advance to sit in on a freshman class to get the true experience.

Diversity, First Generation Students, Low Income Students

Spotlight on Chicago Scholars

No Comments 28 March 2017

Chicago Scholars is an organization that supports academically ambitious students who are first-generation college students and/or come from low-income households. This organization provides support to its participants during the three transitional periods that typically are the most difficult for first-generation students: the transition from high school to college, the years spent navigating college and the transition from college to career.

Students come from 88 high schools across the Chicago area and 84 percent of program participants from the class of 2021 are first-generation college students. About 91 percent of participants are students of color, with 96 percent of participants attending Chicago Public School high schools.

The first phase of the Chicago Scholars program, College Access: Launch, takes place the summer before a participant’s senior year of high school. This portion of the program allows students to receive help with the college application process, find a best match-fit college and begin to build leadership skills. Scholars are matched with an experienced college counselor who will mentor them for eight one-on-one sessions and guide them through college access workshops.

In October, students have the opportunity to participate in the Onsite Admissions Forum. Chicago Scholars’ more than 175 partner colleges come to Chicago to meet with Scholars and other qualified students from Chicago community-based organizations. Program attendees have the chance to interview with up to six of their best fit colleges, with many students receiving admissions decisions and merit aid scholarships that day.

Scholars begin the College Persistence: Lift portion of the program during their transition to college. Students are exposed to experiential learning, supportive relationships and leadership development so they will be empowered to be confident and self-efficient individuals in college. Participants can participate in a retreat and connect with a peer mentor to help them get through their first year of college.

The final portion of this program, College to Careers: Lead, provides Scholars with career planning and leadership development training that allows them to successfully move into the workforce. Students can participate in workshops and one-on-one training that allow them to explore career paths, write strong résumés and build interview and networking skills.

College Greenlight is a vital part of Chicago Scholars’ counseling and scholarship search process. Program participants learn about College Greenlight through workshops and they are encouraged to create profiles to assist them in meeting their scholarship application goals.

Chicago Scholars aims to create a supportive community and provide access to college resources that students might not have otherwise. If you are a college admissions representative and want to connect with this organization, email Rachel Accavitti at raccavitti@chicagoscholars.org.

Diversity, First Generation Students, Low Income Students, Undocumented Students

Spotlight on North Carolina Scholars’ Latino Initiative

No Comments 02 March 2017

N.C. Sli (Scholars’ Latino Initiative) serves Hispanic students across Chatham, Durham, Lee and Orange counties in North Carolina. Program participants receive a support network, academic enrichment and college and career preparation. The majority of students are first-generation college students and/or first-generation Americans who come from low-income households.

Approximately 20 percent of Sli Scholars are undocumented or have DACA status. Program participants tend to be in the top 25 percent of their class. Most Sli students take advanced classes and go on to enroll in a four-year college or university. Prospective Sli Scholars should be committed to academic achievement and personal growth, aim to serve their local communities and work collaboratively with others.

N.C. Sli provides advising and mentoring to ensure that its students succeed in college. The program selects undergraduate students from University of North Carolina to provide peer mentoring for Sli  Scholars. Many of these mentors identify as Latinx, immigrant and/or first-generation college students.

Program participants receive three years of mentoring, which begins the summer prior to their sophomore year of high school. UNC also will provide scholars the opportunity to take classes on Latinx literature and history. Ultimately, this program allows students to participate in a transformative experience that will allow Sli Scholars to positively change the way they think about themselves and the world.

The parents of Sli Scholars also benefit from this program. N.C. Sli allows students to learn about their child’s high school and college experience through Familias Unidas por la Educación. Parents learn about the high school experience in the U.S., the college application process and financial aid. They also discuss parenting-related issues such as bullying, adolescent development, mental health and a family’s transition when a child goes to college.

College Greenlight allows N.C. Sli to track each scholar’s college application process, from building college lists to weighing different college options. As many students live far from N.C. Sli’s headquarters, College Greenlight has been a resource for communicating with and advising these students. Reach out to Alice Dolbow at dolbow@unc.edu to learn more about N.C. Sli.

First Generation Students, Low Income Students, Scholarships

Scholarships for Low-Income and First-Generation Students

No Comments 13 February 2017

Coming from a low-income household or being a first-generation college student can earn you money for college. Take a look at this list to see which scholarships you might be eligible for.

George Geng On Lee Minorities in Leadership Scholarship – This scholarship is for low-income, minority students from the San Francisco Bay area. Applicants must be enrolled as full-time undergraduate students at an accredited not-for-profit, four-year institution for the upcoming fall term. The award for this scholarship is typically $1,000.

Coca-Cola First Generation ScholarshipFirst-generation college students are eligible for this scholarship. This award is available at more than 400 colleges across the country. Contact the school you plan on attending to see if they offer this scholarship and how you might apply.

William F. Gandert Memorial Scholarship – This scholarship is for residents of federally assisted, low-income housing or recipients of Section 8 voucher rent assistance that demonstrate both merit and need. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents with a valid Social Security number, and demonstrate community leadership. Applicants only can apply for one scholarship offered by the NLHA Education Fund per application cycle.

The Villa Esperanza Scholarship – This scholarship is open to first-generation college students who have enrolled at Austin Community College, The University of Texas at Austin, St. Edward’s University, Concordia University, Huston-Tillotson, Texas State University or Southwestern University. The award for this scholarship is typically $2,000.

AIMCO Cares Opportunity Scholarship – This scholarship is for recipients of Section 8 voucher rent assistance that demonstrate both merit and need or residents of federally assisted low-income housing. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA and be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents with a valid Social Security number. Applicants only can apply for one scholarship offered by the NLHA Education Fund per application cycle.

I’m First Scholarship – This award is for a first-generation college student seeking financial aid and scholarship support for college, who has strong writing skills and a unique perspective and demonstrates leadership in their community. Undocumented students are eligible and strongly encouraged to apply. The award for this scholarship is typically $1,000.

Inland Empire Scholarship Fund – This scholarship is for low-income, high-achieving Latino students from San Bernardino and Riverside Counties in California. Applicants must be college-bound high school seniors who demonstrate high academic achievement and community service experience. The award amount for this scholarship typically ranges between $500-$1,500.

Apply to College, Diversity, First Generation Students, Resources

College Application Tips for First-Generation Students

No Comments 01 February 2017

Resources for first-generation college students are abundant — you just need to know where to look. Here are a few tips to help you get started on the college-application process.

Attend Fly-In Programs and College Fairs

It’s vital to know about a college before you apply. Seeing a campus in person is drastically different than experiencing it behind a computer screen.

Traveling to a college for a campus visit can get expensive, so some colleges offer fly-in programs to curb costs for prospective students. These programs cover transportation and allow you to see the school for yourself.

If a fly-in program is out of the question, attending a local college fair is a great alternative. Although you won’t be able to experience a college in-person, this gives you the opportunity to talk to a representative from that institution.

Research

If you have questions related to the college-application process, don’t be afraid to Google. Look up any terms on an application that you are unfamiliar with.

If you need further assistance, email or call an admission counselor. They can break down application requirements and financial aid into easy-to-follow steps. Once you have narrowed down your college list, search for “first-generation students” on a college’s website to see what resources are available.

Sign Up for a Summer Program

A summer program is the best way to learn about a college’s culture and curriculum. First-generation students can feel out of place at college. Attending a summer program can ease the transition to college and ensure students are up for the challenge of college courses. Not every summer program provides financial aid to its participants, so take a look at this list of programs that do.

Ask For Help

Although your parents may not be able to guide you through this process, you don’t have to go through it alone. Share your goals with your family. They can offer emotional support and assist you in finding another family member, friend or organization that can to provide you with financial support or answer questions. Organizations like I’m First guide first-generation college students through this process.


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