Work to help first-generation students earns university national distinction
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Kansas State University has been selected to the inaugural cohort of First Scholars® Network institutions.
MANHATTAN — Kansas State University is among a select group of schools being recognized for its efforts to help first-generation college students succeed with its selection for the inaugural cohort of First Scholars® Network institutions.
K-State is one of 31 institutions to earn the select honor, made by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation, for demonstrating a commitment to advancing the outcomes of first-generation students through improving both first-generation student success initiatives and approaches across the university. As part of the First Scholars Network, K-State gains access to expertise and proven strategic tools from the Center for First-generation Student Success and will learn and share about successful programs and strategies from other network members.
"As a land-grant institution, K-State's commitment to student access, especially first-generation student access, is in our DNA," said Jeannie Brown Leonard, the university's vice provost for student success. "Through our association with the First Scholars Network, we can share our successes in serving first-generation college students and continue to innovate and integrate our work across campus. It is an honor to engage with a community of higher education leaders committed to using data and promising practices to promote first-generation student success."
First Scholars supports institutional desire to scale programmatic initiatives to support first-generation students throughout the student lifecycle and beyond. First Scholars aligns clearly defined, measurable goals with institutional data to identify gaps, track progress and create systems allowing leadership to make informed choices resulting in improved student outcomes, strengthened enrollment management, collaborative programming, and preservation of resources.
"The landscape of first-generation student initiatives is continually shifting alongside the ever-changing needs of our communities, nation and global society," said Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. "As part of the First Scholars Network, Kansas State University will become a key partner in driving systemic change and looking to the future of first-generation student success."
K-State is demonstrating its commitment to first-generation student success in a variety of ways. The university created the Office of First-generation Students in summer 2018. Since then, the office has hosted annual first-generation student graduation recognition events and created a lounge for first-generation students in Holtz Hall with the help of a donation from Phillips 66.
Through collaborations with K-State First, K-State's first-year student success programs, two CAT — Connecting Across Topics — Communities for first-generation students focusing on skill building, leadership and the transition from high school to college were created. In partnership with the Academic Coaching program in the Academic Achievement Center, all first-generation students have an opportunity to meet one-on-one with an academic coach. First-generation students who met with a coach a minimum of three times during a semester increased their GPA by half a point.
College-specific and TRIO programs on all K-State campuses continue to play a vital role in supporting first-generation students not only during their undergraduate studies but beyond through research and graduate school preparation.
K-State and the other First Scholars institutions will partner with the Center for First-generation Student Success for a two-year experience and receive the following:
• Expert guidance and tailored resources converging to support systemic transformation and provide on-time, first-generation thought-leader expertise.
• An integrated framework that combines evidence-based and targeted solutions to propel systemic transformation and confidently scale holistic student support across the academic career of first-generation students.
• Robust inventory, assessment and reporting structures focused on first-generation student support and institutional cultural shifts.
• Scalable initiatives and programmatic toolkits customizable to the institution that address the immediate needs of administrators and practitioners.
• Structured, cross-collaborative learning with institutional partners from across the higher education landscape.
"First Scholars provides a unique balance of bringing first-generation student initiative scaling into focus while drilling down into how K-Staterecalibrates institutional systems to elevate potential and advance outcomes for first-generation students, said Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA president. "This approach positions K-State to be a leader in first-generation student success."
To learn more about first-generation efforts at K-State, visit k-state.edu/firstgen. To learn more about First Scholars and the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit firstgen.naspa.org.