Financial struggles, homesickness, undecided majors, academic stress and learning how to navigate a new environment are all weighty issues many college students grapple within their first year.
But for first-generation students from low-income families, these struggles can sometimes mean the difference between graduating and dropping out.
A new program launching this fall by the University of Cincinnati’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences aims to provide extra support for the growing number of A&S students who are the first in their families to attend college.
UC is teaming up with College Possible, a St. Paul-based nonprofit that helps low-income students prepare for and enroll in college, to be the first institution in Ohio to launch the organization’s Catalyze coaching program.
The initiative pairs first-generation A&S students who are Pell Grant recipients with “success coaches” — recent college graduates who mentor students as they navigate what can be a complicated college maze.
“Retention is important, and every student is important,” said Lisa Holstrom, the college’s senior assistant dean of academic services. “We’ve known that if we’re going to retain students, we need more resources. Therefore we needed to invest in this area.”
The program’s focus is on first-generation, Pell-eligible students, Holstrom said, because they are at greater statistical risk of dropping out.