First-generation Support at St. Olaf College

Jessica P Cameron, M.A., St. Olaf College / The Center / September 01, 2021

St. Olaf College has been committed to serving first-generation college students for quite some time. We have robust TRIO programming (SSS, SSSD, Educational Talent Search, Upward Bound, McNair), in-depth career development, and engaged advising resources that all include high impact practices for supporting first-generation college students. 

As our first-generation college student numbers grow, we are stepping up the way in which we serve them. We are actively working to create a roadmap of resources and an institutionalized cohort program to serve the students who TRIO SSS, due to grant restrictions, does not have the space to serve. We envision a four-year cohort program that would take students through different mentoring experiences over their four years. 

In the first year, they will have access to peer mentoring and explore resources on campus. In the second year, we will connect students with our career center, which will offer them robust career coaching. Faculty and research will come in during the first year, during which a faculty member will act as a mentor. Lastly, as students are preparing to graduate they will have an alumni mentor. Network-based mentoring will take advantage of the reality that students’ needs evolve during their education, and mentoring needs can and most likely will shift. While we are busy working on this cohort program named Connect for Success, we are continuing to work across departments on how we can improve practices. This includes creating a home on our website for first-generation college students and resources. We have also expanded our November 8th first-generation college student day to a week of raising awareness and celebration.

For more information on St. Olaf College’s approach, please visit their website here.