First generation college students want to belong to something that matters. These students need to identify themselves with this program, so that their voice will be heard and their futures changed. The messages they share with others need to motivate the Nashville community towards change.
What messages are being created? How are we communicating with students?
Karla and Henry, two Lipscomb first generation college students, share their thoughts about being the first in their family to attend college.
Before the launch of this pilot program, Lipscomb as an institution was not tracking the amount of first generation college students that were enrolled at the institution. In order to better serve these students, questions asking students to identify themselves as first generation college students were added to the Lipscomb Admissions undergraduate application, as well as the Enrollment Deposit application for all incoming freshman students.
Before the beginning of the Fall 2013 semester, an email was sent to 142 incoming freshman students that all identified themselves as a first generation college student based on their responses to the enrollment deposit survey. This email invited these students to participate in the pilot program for first generation college students during the Fall 2013 semester.
The Academic Success Center also recruited more first generation college students to participate in the pilot program at the resource fair for the incoming freshman, during freshman orientation, Quest Week. After the resource fair, 25 students shared their interest in being a part of the program.
An early interest meeting for the first generation college student program was held on September 9th, 2013 to begin talking about program expectations for the students.
Role of social media
Social media and technology are two important tools to consider for this group of students as the Academic Success Center works to recruit more students each semester. The Lipscomb University Admissions Facebook group "I'm Coming to LU in 20__" has had tremendous success in encouraging an incoming student community before the freshman meet on campus every fall semester. Creating a similar Facebook group for these first generation college students will give them an opportunity to connect with new first generation college students, as well as current Lipscomb students, staff, and faculty. Other media like Instagram and Twitter will also be utilized, as well as direct links for the first generation college student program added to ASC website.
Students need to create the brand and the name for the group so that they will take ownership of it. Plans for the spring 2014 semester include students creating a name for the group and using social media platforms to share information and promote community activities. A student worker position through the Academic Success Center will also help push those platforms.