First Scholars™ is a comprehensive four-year program that supports first-generation students and assists them in completing their college degrees. First Scholars delivers multiple levels of support, including a full-time program coordinator and peer mentors to strengthen existing university services. Our mission is to dramatically improve the graduation rate of first-generation college students and to prepare each scholar for a life with self-awareness, success, and significance.
First Scholars staff and programming assists scholars with adjusting to campus life by introducing campus resources and encouraging participation in campus organization and activities. Participants enter the program as a cohort, live together in the same residence hall, and take a common course as well.
The next phase involves each scholar, guided by the program coordinator, creating an individualized strategic plan based on his or her results on the Student Strengths Inventory™ (SSI). The plan identifies strengths and areas for growth and outlines strategies and interventions tied to goals. Scholars retake the SSI periodically, as a part of continually updating and fine-tuning their individualized strategic plans throughout their college career.
Students selected for the program participate in social activities, workshops, service opportunities and maintain regular contact with their peer mentors and the program coordinator. Programming includes:
- Group activities such as socials, educational programs, service opportunities, resource awareness and enrichment opportunities;
- Participation in a student organization based on the scholars interests;
- Pay-it-Forward service which allows scholars to give back by volunteering in community non-profit organizations and projects. In addition, scholars transition to a leadership role as they become upperclassmen-giving back by assisting incoming scholars as peer mentors or tutors or other roles benefiting the program.
As scholars transition to upper-class status, programming will focus on personal development within the context of content areas such as leadership or social responsibility.