First Scholars® is a comprehensive program that supports first-generation students
and assists them in completing their college degrees. Participants form a cohort and
generally take a common course. First Scholars® delivers multiple levels of support,
including a full-time program coordinator and peer mentors to augment existing university
services. Initially, the staff and programming focus on assisting scholars adjust
to campus life by introducing campus resources and encouraging participation in campus
organizations and activities. 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 InventoryTM(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 careers. Students selected
for the program participate in social activities, workshops, service opportunities
and maintain regular contact with their peer mentors and the program coordinator.
- Development of an individual strategic plan based on the scholars Student Strengths
Inventory (SSI) results;
- Peer Mentoring (freshmen and sophomore years);
- Cohort common course (freshmen year);
- Group activities such as social interactions, educational programs, service opportunities,
resource awareness and enrichment opportunities.
- Participation in a student organization based on the scholars interests
- Pay-it-Forward service opportunities
The "Pay-It-Forward" component 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. Programming
for this phase is currently in development. The First Scholars® programming is designed
to help students adjust to, and thrive in, the college environment and beyond.