Georgia Tech Hosts Its Inaugural First-Generation College Institute for First-Generation and Limited Income High School Students
Charmaine E. Troy, Georgia Institute of Technology / The Center / January 11, 2023
The Georgia Institute of Technology has implemented a statewide initiative that inspires first-generation and limited income students to pursue learning and career pathways in science and technology. The First-Generation College Institute is a state-wide summer initiative designed to identify, engage, and prepare first-generation and limited income students in making the successful transition to college while increasing their exposure to science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEM and STEAM) enrichment. This new initiative aligned with the Institute's goal to expand access to underserved populations, which includes first-generation students.
The goals of the program are:
• Uniting first-generation and limited income high school students around the shared identity of being a first-generation college student
• Preparing and empowering first-generation and limited income 8th-12th students for the transition from high school to college
• Connecting first-generation and limited income students with programs, resources, and people that will support their success at Georgia Tech
• Engaging students through high-quality academic and hands-on STEM enrichment learning
First-Generation Student Initiatives, in collaboration with the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) and the Office of Undergraduate Admission, hosted the one-day event for rising first-generation and limited income students in 8th through 12th grade. The program was offered on Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus in June and again on the Savannah campus in July. At both events, students participated in informational sessions on college preparation and planning, financial aid, college admissions, and hands-on STEM activities.
Due to parent interest in attending the Atlanta event with their child, the Savannah event was modified to include informational and Q&A sessions specifically for parents. Collaborating with CEISMC and Undergraduate Admissions afforded the opportunity to increase our reach across the state of Georgia and be proactive in expanding access to underserved populations, especially in Georgia’s rural communities. The earlier that first-generation students know the college preparation process and the aptitude in STEM that is required for an institution like Georgia Tech, the more prepared they will be for the college application process and their transition into college.
The earlier that first-generation students know the college preparation process and the aptitude in STEM that is required for an institution like Georgia Tech, the more prepared they will be for the college application process and their transition into college.
Assessment of the program was designed to collect formative data to support future programmatic decision-making, as well as outcome data to assess the potential effects of the program. Post-surveys containing fixed-response and open-ended items were administered to students and parents immediately after the event they attended. According to the evaluation report, the event attracted first-generation students who were already hoping to attend college and interested in STEM disciplines, but wanted more information on admissions, financial aid, and what to expect in college. Most Atlanta students were upperclassman, reporting that they were in 11th or 12th grade (61%). Savannah students indicated they were primarily underclassmen, with 59% in 9th or 10th grade. There was a similar percentage of 8th graders at both the Atlanta (12%) and Savannah (13%) events. A post survey showed that on average, students agreed that the First-Generation College Institute had a positive impact on their understanding of STEM careers, possible career choices, as well as helping them make decisions about their future. Their sense of belonging in college was also positively impacted by the event, agreeing that it helped them feel more like they will fit in at college.
As a result of last summer’s pilot program and assessment, it has gained participation from more campus partners and additional funding. Additional partnerships and funding has led to the opportunity for first-generation and limited income students attending the 2023 First-Generation College Institute to gain a weekend-long, on-campus residential experience.