Barry McNamara  |   Published October 27, 2016

Strive for College

Monmouth partners with program in support of first-generation students

Monmouth College has partnered with Strive for College to strengthen opportunities for low-income, first-generation college students.

By becoming a Strive for College partner, Monmouth has demonstrated a commitment to enrolling and graduating low-income and first-generation college students. Through Strive’s programs, the College will promote and strengthen campus programs and support services for such students.

“Monmouth is committed to offering programs and services that can help all our students reach their full potential, and so we are very proud be in partnership with Strive for College and ‘I’m First!’” said Monmouth Regional Director of Admission Brandon Myer, who works in the Chicago area along with longtime Senior Regional Director Peter Pitts. “This is the kind of community and resource that prospective students and families need when considering which college is right for them.”

The College administers several programs that benefit new students, including first-generation students:

  • the Scots Success Mentoring Program offers the opportunity for new students to partner with a peer mentor;
  • the Bridge to Success Program is an 18-day experience prior to the start of the first semester for new incoming students to get a jump-start on transitioning to the academic and social experience of college;
  • New Beginnings is a three-day transition program for all multicultural students, helping them make a successful transition from high school to college.
Monmouth also participates in the Associated Colleges of Illinois’ Peer Mentoring Program, which supports students who arrive at member institutions with risk factors that could prevent them from graduating. The program matches those students with junior and senior peer mentors who faced similar challenges when they entered college.

“We believe Monmouth College offers a high-quality and engaging environment that prepares first-generation college students to excel in learning, leadership and service,” said Meyer, who reported that 29 percent of Monmouth’s students identify as first-generation. “Through a variety of measures, students receive the challenge and support to succeed academically and socially at Monmouth.”

In its March 2016 “Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Need Report,” the Department of Education reported that Monmouth College was one of the 10 best private non-profit four-year institutions in enrolling and graduating Pell Grant recipients, “many of whom are first-generation students,” Meyer said.

Monmouth continues to serve as a partner institution with OneGoal, which establishes partnerships with a select group of postsecondary institutions that are making a concerted effort to support minority student populations, students from low-income communities and first-generation college-goers.

The College is also one of about 50 college partners that support LINK Unlimited scholars in accessing students and administrators to answer questions and give students relevant information about their school. LINK Unlimited is a mentoring and scholarship program that serves economically disadvantaged African-American youth, supporting them in pursuit of college success by providing academic support, scholarship and one-on-one mentoring through the high school years and beyond.

Nationwide, about 24 percent of students enrolled in college are low-income, first-generation students. But across the country, only 10 percent of those students earn a bachelor’s degree six years after graduating from high school.

“The alarming dropout rate among first-gen college students illustrates the importance of programs that promote better college opportunities for these students,” says Strive for College founder and CEO Michael J. Carter. “Alongside schools like Monmouth, we aim to change this trend.”

Strive for College’s “I’m First!” program provides numerous resources to educators and students alike. For college partners, there is a learning community where colleagues can share best practices and model successful programs for recruiting and retaining first-generation college students. For students, ImFirst.org features student videos, blogs and advice, and is an information hub where students can research and connect with colleges.

Strive’s site also features a collection of YouTube video stories from first-generation college students and graduates, such as First Lady Michelle Obama, that inspire and offer advice to the next generation of students. Monmouth is also featured in the I’m First! Guide to College, the only comprehensive college guidebook for first-generation college-bound students.

In addition to “I’m First!” programs, Strive for College’s virtual mentoring program connects aspiring college students with dedicated mentors to receive one-on-one guidance and support through the college admissions and financial aid application process. Monmouth is helping to mobilize mentors from its campus community and alumni network to assist students.

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