Jody Donovan,Oscar Felix,Andrea Reeve,Paul Thayer
Does socioeconomic status make a difference in college preparation, access, attendance and graduation? Current statistics about college attainment in the 21st Century continue to reflect differences in college attendance rates and graduation for students who come from low-income and/or first-generation (neither parent has a bachelor’s degree) families, including students at Colorado State University, the presenters' institution, who graduate at lower rates than students from higher income and bachelor-degree families. Tom Mortensen, author of Postsecondary Education Opportunity notes that “educational attainment increasingly defines individual, family, community, state and national welfare.” The relationship between educational attainment and income is very high and in addition, there are positive correlates between education and quality of life.
Although the hope for the 21st century is that poverty rates would decrease and educational attainment would increase, a study of “College Participation Rates for Low Income Families in FY 2006” indicates a decrease in higher education participation from 2005 to 2006 to 23.8% (Pell grant recipients) compared to 18-24 olds with no Pell Grants (45.4%). This gap is wider than any reported data since FY 1993! College graduation rates for students from the lowest income quartile also reflect percentages much lower than for students from higher income brackets. Although low-income and first-generations students enter postsecondary with the same academic admissions criteria, socio-economic factors present challenges and barriers to college persistence and completion. Programs and partnerships that provide supplemental academic support based on effective practices research on low-income and first generation can increase student success, and creating pipeline partnerships with middle and high schools increase the access of academically prepared students.
This session will provide an overview of first-generation and low-income students in higher education and at CSU and will describe programming effective in supporting students’ access, persistence and graduation. The presentation format will include first generation student voices and several interactive activities.
This session describes effective practices for faculty, administrators and staff that support the access, persistence and success of low-income and first-generation students in higher education. The session consists of panel discussion with four main components:
1. Statistics and demographic overview of low-income, first-generation students nationally and at CSU
2. Challenges faced by low-income, first-generation students, including voices of students and the results of two qualitative research studies
3. Importance of, and suggestions for effective practices in creating pipeline partnerships
4. Effective practices for faculty, administrators and student services units to create a campus environment conducive to the success of lower income and first generation students.
Participant involvement includes a group activity to identify student opportunities and challenges, and discussion.
The session’s theoretical framework is based on recent research and literature on socio-economic status and student success in higher education, including demographic information from Tom Mortensen (Postsecondary Opportunity), the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education (Straight from the source, What works for first-generation college students; Demography is not destiny: increasing the graduation rates of low-income college students at large public universities), Reports from the National Center for Education Statistics (First-generation students: Undergraduates whose parents never enrolled in postsecondary education; First-generation students in postsecondary education: a look at their college transcripts; Students whose parents did not go to college: Postsecondary access, persistence and attainment), and other research literature. All the presenters also have considerable relevant experience in the topic area and have conducted research on these student populations.
Background of Presenters/Familiarity of Topic:
All of the presenters have research and relevant work experience related to the topic. Both Jody Donovan and Oscar Felix studied low-income and first-generation students for their dissertations and Dr. Donovan has conducted additional research on first generation students in higher education. Oscar Felix is the Executive Director of the Center for Educational Access and Outreach, sponsoring several pre-college access programs and partnerships with schools that serve low-income and first-generation students. Paul Thayer is the author of a journal article, “Retaining first generation and low income students” and has twenty+ years of experience working with low-income and first-generation students in pre-college access programs. He also is a founder of the Colorado State University First Generation Scholarship program that annually provides 55 scholarships to CSU students and persistence support first-generation students. Andrea Reeve has 20 years experience working with pre-college and postsecondary support programs for low-income and first-generation students, and for eight years directed the National TRIO and the Pathways to College Network Clearinghouses (Adjunct ERIC Higher Education Clearinghouses) in the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education in Washington, DC.
Goals and Target Audience:
•Increase awareness about the role of socio-economic status in college access, persistence and graduation, and an overview of current statistical trends
•Increase awareness of how SES may affect student involvement and academic achievement
•Hear the voices of first-generation, low-income students as they describe their challenges and opportunities
*learn about two qualitative research studies of first-generation students
•Present effective practices and partnerships to support low-income and first-generation students at the postsecondary level
Targeted audience: faculty, administrators and student services staff
Note: a version of this session was presented at the CSU Diversity Conference, but had few if any, faculty in attendance.