April 30, 2015

Workshops focus on first-generation students

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. – For some students, going to college is an expected path. For others, it’s uncharted territory. 

Southern Illinois University Carbondale attracts a high percentage of first-generation college students – those students whose parents did not receive a college degree of any kind nor attend college for two or more years. In recent years, almost half of each incoming class of first-year students are first-generation. 

The Suder Foundation created and supports the university’s First Scholars Program – part of the University College – which provides scholarships, and academic and co-curricular programming, for a set of first-generation students. The fifth group of Suder First Scholars starts next fall. 

An upcoming series of professional development workshops is designed for specific populations of university personnel who have frequent contact with first-year students, including academic advisers, student affairs personnel, graduate teaching assistants, and faculty. These workshops will help establish protocols and pedagogies that include consideration of the specific needs of first-generation college students. 

While the First Scholars Program provides scholarships and a support network for the students within the program, training a wide swath of SIU personnel to recognize the needs of most first-generation students will extend the benefits of a support network to more students. 

The professional development workshops for SIU personnel will have benefits even beyond the SIU campus. SIU is one of seven universities that the Suder Foundation selected for a first-generation support program, and one of two universities selected to lead the development of these workshops. The Suder Foundation will use the workshops to broaden its influence and support of first-generation college students. 

The remainder of the professional development workshops for this semester will take place the week of May 4. Here’s a schedule:

May 4 – student service personnel, Morris Library, Room 261

May 5 – graduate teaching assistants, Morris Library, Room 752

May 6 – faculty, Morris Library, Room 754 

All workshops begin at 5 p.m. and include refreshments.