Bay Path College is pleased to announce that it is featured in a major new report from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), Making Sure They Make It! Best Practices for Ensuring the Academic Success of First-Generation College Students. Bay Path College is also featured on the newly launched CIC/Walmart College Success Awards website at www.cic.edu/CollegeSuccessAwards. The report summarizes the experiences of 50 colleges and universities that received substantial grants from CIC/Walmart Foundation to help strengthen exemplary programs that support the education of first-generation students. The website’s main purpose is to help institutions of higher education that are interested in starting or improving programs and services for first-generation college students.
Bay Path College received a $100,000 grant in 2008 from the CIC/Walmart College Success Awards program to enhance its program: “Making Connections—Improving Retention and Achieving Success Among First-Generation Undergraduate Women in the First Two Years.”
Bay Path College and the 49 other institutions that participated in the program were selected through a competitive application process in 2008 and 2010; 40 institutions received $100,000 grants and 10 received $50,000 grants to help build on programs that showed the greatest promise of increasing retention of the largest number of first-generation students. These College Success Award recipients worked together as a network to assist first-generation college students, learn from one another, and serve as models for other colleges and universities. All award winners had an undergraduate enrollment that includes at least 30 percent first-generation students among the most recent classes of first-year students.
In addition, many institutions surpassed goals for identifying and enrolling these students, and assessment efforts indicated that first-generation students credited the College Success programs with helping them with the transition to college, creating greater self-confidence, improving their GPAs, connecting them to faculty members as well as the larger campus community, and helping them graduate.
Best Practices. Although the report cautions that there may be no “silver bullet” when it comes to enhancing the academic success of first-generation students, the colleges and universities that participated in the CIC/Walmart College Success Awards developed several best practices that led to success:
1. Identify, actively recruit, and continually track first-generation students;
2. Bring them to campus early;
3. Focus on the distinctive features of first-generation students;
4. Develop a variety of programs that meet students’ ongoing needs;
5. Use mentors;
6. Institutionalize a commitment to first-generation students;
7. Build community, promote engagement, and make it fun;
8. Involve family (but keep expectations realistic);
9. Acknowledge, and ease when possible, financial pressures; and
10. Keep track of your successes and failures.
The report illuminates these ten best practices with examples, quotations, data, and stories from the 50 institutions that will help any college or university interested in improving efforts to retain, educate, and graduate first-generation college students.
The College Success Awards website is organized so that visitors can get an overview of the project and significant results, read about the lessons learned during the course of all four years of the project, peruse individual program profiles for all 50 participating institutions, search for specific ideas and tips categorized by the strategies used by the various institutions, and see a list of complementary resources that might be of further use to them. Bay Path College is featured here http://www.cic.org/Programs-and-Services/Programs/Walmart-College-Success/Pages/Program-Bay-Path.aspx. The site also gives visitors an opportunity to contribute to the website by adding other programs that might benefit other colleges. Visitors have easy access to additional program information, including videos, photographs, and materials used in the participants’ first-generation programs.
The Making Sure They Make It! report, found at www.cic.edu/CollegeSuccessAwards, is authored by Kerry J. Strand, Andrew G. Truxal Professor of Sociology and chair of the Department of Sociology and Social Work at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland.
Bay Path College will participate in the CIC/Walmart College Success Awards Program Symposium on First-Generation College Students. The Symposium will take place July 7–9, 2014, in Baltimore, Maryland.