WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE FIRST GENERATION?
First Generation College Students are defined in many ways. At Becker College we believe a First Generation Student is someone who is the first in their immediate family to attend a college/university (that may be accredited or non-accredited) and obtain a degree – with parent(s) who have not.
Provide support, resources and guidance to First Generation Students, and a platform for students to express their questions, concerns and learn self-advocacy for a successful transition to college and experience. To close “the gap” by building a community of support on campus, and eliminate the feeling of imposter syndrome by supporting and celebrating First Generation Students through resources, recognition, special events, and a mentorship program with a series of leadership workshops which will begin at orientation and be held each month.
PEER MENTORSHIP PROGRAM
The Peer Mentorship Program is available for both incoming and current first-year, and sophomore students who identify as First Generation.
Do you have questions about navigating the transition from high school to college? Need guidance on where to find resources and information? Mentors will receive training about the unique challenges and strengths of first-gen students, and they are eager to support you and welcome you to the Becker community. Mentors have volunteered to serve as a resource and a connection in your network as you navigate Becker College. They can speak to you on topics such as: Financial Literacy; Financial Aid (FAFSA & other loans); Imposter Syndrome; Time Management; Balancing Family & Expectations; Study Tips/Strategies; Self-Care; Study Abroad; Resilience; Getting Involved on Campus; Transitioning or Introduction to College Life; Life After Graduation (Grad School/Career/Peace Corp); Social Life; Choosing a Major.
The First Generation Mentorship Program is designed to provide yearlong one-on-one mentorship and support in the following areas: social, academic, and professional. Participation in the program increases awareness of resources both on and off campus. It provides support to students outside of the classroom as well as connections before they even arrive on campus. First Generation Students usually cannot rely on their parents for knowledge around college jargon or processes. This is in comparison to their peers whose parents and siblings have had college experiences and may be more familiar. Our hope is that through this program, students will be able to build a strong sense of community that allows mentors to utilize their knowledge and skills to help new students with their transition to college, and ultimately feel more connected to Becker. Freshman year can be a tough time for any college student but there are additionally unique challenges and circumstances that come with being a First Generation Student. This is a period of transition, self-exploration, and balance of time management between academics, social life, family obligations, and work experiences.
SUMMARY OF FIRST GENERATION MENTORSHIP PROGRAM GOALS
- To increase the retention and success of First Generation College Students
- To provide individualized and ongoing mentorship from peers, faculty/staff, and alumni
- To increase a sense of belonging in the community
- To have a network connection and resource on campus immediately
- To ease the transition from high school to college
- To provide resources that assist in social, professional, and academic success, and problem solve
- Currently enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at Becker
- Incoming First Generation College Student
- Attend summer orientation, and a designated number of monthly workshops per semester
- Attend National First Gen Day
Rewards of Being a Mentee:
- Gain support and direction for any concerns or challenges you face as a first-gen student.
- Meet a community of other First Generation Students at Becker College.
- Discover a direct network at Becker in the same major as you.
- Form a long-term relationship, not only throughout your undergraduate degree but possibly throughout your professional post-graduate life.
- Ask questions about things you are uncertain about.
- Do not feel embarrassed. They were in your same position before!
- Set goals for things that you want to accomplish academically, personally, or socially.
- Get involved on campus with your school’s clubs and organizations
- Be proactive and take initiative: Reach out, don’t depend on your professors or mentor to always do the outreach especially if you’re struggling. Communication is a two-way street!
- Understand you are not alone. There is an entire community of students who are First Gen and have or are going through similar experiences.
- Communicate with your mentor if you are running late or need to reschedule.
Students interested in having a mentor may submit a Mentee Application here. It will be reviewed and shortly after, before being matched with a mentor, the student will be assigned a staff/faculty contact for any immediate questions and concerns as they adjust to college life. Aside from being matched with a mentor, mentees will also be paired with an upperclassmen who identifies as First Generation and may share the same major or interests. Students will be able to discuss any concerns, questions, or challenges they may face as a First Generation Student at Becker, while gaining support, direction, and connectivity from their mentor.
- Completed at two years at Becker
- Maintain good academic standing
- Identify as First Generation in alliance with our definition
- Attend mandatory training session and kick-off event in the beginning of the semester
- Must be able to commit to the program during summer orientation and the remainder of the academic year
- Attend National First Gen Day
What you will gain as a mentor:
- Help to set the tone for how the mentee’s college experience may be
- Skills to market to employers & add to resume under Volunteer Services or Campus Involvement
- Develop and foster a meaningful relationship with mentee, and support them within their first year to be successful
- Mentee can provide a recommendation for you on LinkedIn
- Serve as a role model and network within the same major for mentee
- Share insight and advice to ensure success for mentee
- Bridge the generation gap and pay it forward. Remember, you were once in the same position!
- Communicate with your mentee if you are running late or need to reschedule.
- Reinforce the importance of getting involved and taking advantage of resources on campus.
- Help them make connections on campus, invite them to events, and encourage them to go.
- If your mentee is unresponsive, email your staff/faculty contact.
- If you are concerned about the well-being of your mentee, contact your staff/faculty contact who will fill out a CARE report and a team of professionals at the College will check in with the student or take the next best steps.
- Share and reflect on your own experiences and what you struggled with. Let them know what you wish you had known at the time, and also what you did to become successful at school.
- Let them know what they should expect, and reinforce the idea that they are an asset to the school, and that “our” struggles are also strengths.
- Check in often. Text them to check in to offer consistent support.
- Set goals based on what the student wants to accomplish. Follow up on those goals.
- Be available outside of your scheduled monthly check-ins.
- Be patient and helpful. Remember, you were once in their position. What would you have wanted help with?
- Remember what your mentee asks/talks about, and follow-up later. (Take notes if needed.)
- Be a good listener, and make no assumptions – each mentee has a unique set of needs.
- Reinforce his/her sense of belonging in the Becker community.
- Offer advice to the best of your ability, based on their questions and your own experience.
- At your first meeting, talk about why you’re involved with the First Gen Program. Share openly, as you’ll be setting the tone for communication within your relationship.
- Try to establish an informal, but mutually respectful, rapport.
- Learn about your mentee via open-ended questions (background, interests, fears, challenges).
- Allow lots of opportunity for questions and be sure you’re both spending some time talking.
- Be proactive in scheduling contact, and encourage your mentee to reach out to you, as well.
Upperclassmen who identify as First Gen and are interested in serving as a mentor to underclassmen may submit a Mentor Application here.
MENTOR/MENTEE FACULTY STAFF CONTACTS
Are you a Staff/Faculty member that identifies as First Generation?
Get involved! Think about serving as a Mentor/Mentee Faculty/Staff contact. Join the First Generation Task Force! We are a group of staff that works together to plan events for First Generation Students and would love to have students join this group.
Another option to support First Generation initiatives is to join our First Generation Working Groups. We are a small but mighty group made up of folks from various campus departments.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED AND FOR ALL OTHER QUESTIONS/INFO
Email Kristen Coogan at Kristen.firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO SUPPORT THROUGH DONATIONS
Want to support Becker College First Generation students and initiatives?
We encourage our community to help support through funding if possible! This would provide our First Generation Students with access to valuable resources and programs to celebrate their unique accomplishments.
The Nancy P. Crimmin Presidential Scholarship Fund is an endowed scholarship that supports first-generation college student success. You can Donate Here.