UCR defines first-generation as "a student, faculty, or staff member with neither parent or guardian having graduated with a 4-year degree or higher, in the United States." As of Fall 2019, UCR enrolled 57% first-generation (first-gen) undergraduate students versus the national average of 34%. Approximately 63% of students who entered in the fall of 2018 are first-generation students, an increase over recent years.
Why support first-generation students?
First Generation students are often described as challenge-seekers, trail-blazers, proud, independent, and ambitious. We strongly agree. However, we also recognize that even trailblazers have a need for support and colleges are large, complicated places. As first-generation students, research has shown there can often be a lack of information access, resources, and networks regarding the student experience and the culture of higher education. First Generation students are more likely to work while in college, live off-campus, focus on vocational and technical fields of study, and drop out of college at a rate twice that of students outside this group. Studies have also shown first-generation students are less likely to ask for or receive help in applying for college, often delay starting college, are less likely to ask for help during crises while in college, and can have a greater need for academic assistance. Unfortunately, as trailblazers many first-generation students are also reluctant to ask for help, as they are accustomed to forging their own path and finding their own way. With this in mind, the UCR First Generation Initiatives was designed to help increase awareness of first-generation issues and experiences, reduce roadblocks, increase campus collaborative support efforts, and encourage students to use campus resources with the end goal of student success.
What is the UCR First-Gen Initiative?
In 2016, the University of California Office of President (UC) initiated a series support programs for First-Generation Faculty, with the aims of increasing visibility of UC Faculty through marketing and communications. UCR has embraced the faculty program and over time both programs have expanded it to a fully inclusive model to also engage students, staff, and alumni. Our goals are to increase awareness UCR’s exceptional history of service to first-generation students, develop a first-generation website to serve as a clearinghouse of resources and programs, create a sense of community for first-generation, increase collaboration between various campus support programs and services, seek additional grant and other funding efforts, and develop additional resources and programs to enhance first-generation student support. We already offer a several specialized services including TRIO, MSRIP, Diversity and Inclusion programs, First-Year Mentors, and various peer mentoring services that engage large first-generation populations. Beyond these, there are multiple units and individualized programs across campus with unique services support with whom we will seek coalition building and upscaling of these services, where possible, for a wider impact.
Expand UC Faculty model to include students, staff and alumni
Focus on increasing awareness and recognition, mentoring, and support programs
Create a visible community and a supportive sense of place
Encourage first-generation students to utilize resources
Link individualized services and programs, create cooperation and identify growth areas
Provide instructional improvement opportunities and resources via the Center for Teaching and Learning