First Generation Rams: Getting Connected

Haley Losoya, M.Ed., Angelo State University / The Center / September 16, 2020

Being a college student can be scary. Being a first-generation college student can be scarier. Finding a college that feels like home and knowing there is a person you can go to with all college-related questions can help. As a first-generation college student myself, I enjoy working with new first-generation college students at Angelo State University (ASU), and over the last few years, I have found a few ways to really connect with the students. Here is how the First Gen Rams program at ASU is helping students.

Face-to-Face Program Recruiting

In past years at our summer orientation sessions, I would set up a table with handouts and stand there with a smiling face eager to welcome and meet new first-gen students and their families. I think that being able to see these students and parents face-to-face and being able to answer some of their questions and concerns on the spot helps build that initial connection. There is something about putting a face to a name and not just an email that helps create a connection. Perhaps the face-to-face recruiting is more enticing to the families of the new students, as many times the incoming freshmen are too shy to ask questions. Nonetheless, the parents are a good resource for encouraging their students to sign-up for programs like First Gen Rams to ensure their student has a face and name they can go to with questions.

Personalized Emails

Another method that has proven helpful at ASU with connecting to new first-gen students is personalized emails. This year, I used a mass email approach to invite the students to learn more about the program. I had a great response and followed that up with personalized emails to thank them for applying and welcoming them into the program. Future emails were also personalized and proved to be a great way to start conversations with the students. Personalized emails do take more time, but the amount of replies was much greater than when mass emails would go out.

First Generation Living Learning Community

The key to creating lasting relationships and connecting the students to campus is good, continuous, and personalized communication and creating a campus that feels like a home away from home. In one of the residence halls, there is a floor set aside for our first-gen students. On this floor, we are able to provide additional support for our students, assist with leadership opportunities, and enhanced programming. The residence hall staff members are selected specifically to work with this community and form an environment on the floor to build connections and relationships.

For more information on Angelo State University's approach, please visit their website here.