In order to make the shift to college life less difficult and improve student retention rates, Portland State is piloting the new Students First Mentoring Program, which offers a host of support services for first-generation college students. Students whose parents have not graduated from a four-year college often struggle to navigate the complex university environment; studies have shown that those students, receiving only standard advising, drop out at a rate higher than average.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education, Students First is helping 75 new students adjust to university life by pairing them with a first-generation student mentor and connecting them to campus resources. Next year the program will expand both on campus and to local community colleges, helping make those students' transition to Portland State smoother.
The Students First project was developed by Peter Collier, an associate professor of sociology at Portland State, whose research focuses on student role transitions into and within higher education. For more information, visit www.studentsfirst.pdx.edu.