Pro Bono

Pro Bono2018-10-27T21:21:29-04:00

Our Pro Bono Work on First Generation Students

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We believe that a college education can be essential for people to find opportunities and to progress in their lives.

One in three undergraduate college students (34%) are the first in their families to go to college.*

College completion is particularly important for these students to gain skills and credentials to succeed in the workforce.  Yet, college graduation rates are low, particularly for students who are both low income and first generation.

Only 11% obtain a college degree within 6 years of enrolling*

* Source: Postsecondary National Policy Institute. “Factsheets: First Generation Students,”
http://pnpi.org/first-generation-students/, 12/1/16, accessed 9/26/18

First generation students face a variety of challenges, both practical and emotional. To create an easy-to-use summary and snapshot of the issues, we reviewed articles and papers from a range of sources and experts.

While many of the issues are complex, we created a report that provides a succinct overview of:

  • The challenges first generation students face
  • Some specific actions college administrators, faculty members, students and their families can consider to address the obstacles to success, and to help more students complete college and graduate

The challenges and strategies for action are grouped into five major areas:

Emotional Adjustment
Navigating College
Academic Preparation & Capabilities
Financial & Day-to-Day Living Hurdles
Disruptions in Education
Emotional Adjustment
Navigating College
Academic Preparation & Capabilities
Financial & Day-to-Day Living Hurdles
Disruptions in Education

We are eager to help institutions striving to improve success rates among first generation and low income students.

We are happy to share the detailed report with people in higher ed, and we also provide pro bono consulting to help selected institutions address these challenges.

Please reach out if you would like a copy of our research, or to discuss projects related to first generation or low income student success.

How We Became Interested in First Generation Students

Our interest in first generation students grew out of survey research conducted about a decade ago on the mindsets of students as they applied to college.

The first generation students in the study stood out. They expressed strong determination to enroll, and spoke with passion and emotion about how college would change their lives.

We then began to follow what happens once first generation students are enrolled in college, and learned about the complex set of obstacles to completion that many encounter. Some students drop out due to one major issue; many others are derailed by the cumulative impact of one grueling challenge after another.

In case histories we read, many of the students who dropped out had demonstrated strong achievement in high school, and/or had already persevered in the face of significant personal and financial obstacles. There was every expectation they would succeed, and it was dismaying to learn they could not.

Since then, many institutions have taken significant steps to address the barriers to completion, but there is still much progress to be made. We would like to see more students succeed in the future, and want to be helpful to institutions and organizations that are working to accomplish this.

How We Became Interested in First Generation Students

Our interest in first generation students grew out of survey research conducted about a decade ago on the mindsets of students as they applied to college.

The first generation students in the study stood out. They expressed strong determination to enroll, and spoke with passion and emotion about how college would change their lives.

We then began to follow what happens once first generation students are enrolled in college, and learned about the complex set of obstacles to completion that many encounter. Some students drop out due to one major issue; many others are derailed by the cumulative impact of one grueling challenge after another.

In case histories we read, many of the students who dropped out had demonstrated strong achievement in high school, and/or had already persevered in the face of significant personal and financial obstacles. There was every expectation they would succeed, and it was dismaying to learn they could not.

Since then, many institutions have taken significant steps to address the barriers to completion, but there is still much progress to be made. We would like to see more students succeed in the future, and want to be helpful to institutions and organizations that are working to accomplish this.