PSU Program Helps First-Generation College Students Succeed
Author: Angela D. Abel (503-725-8763) Office of Marketing and Communications
Posted: December 15, 2005
A new pilot program at Portland State University is helping over 70 first-generation students succeed at college and in life.

Designed to make the shift to college life less difficult and in the process improve student retention rates at PSU, the Students First Mentoring Program (SFMP) offers a wide range of support services for first-generation college students, (students whose parents have not graduated from a four-year college). Many new students, especially those who are among the first in their families to attend college, are not knowledgeable about resources available to them at the university level. A good percentage of these students find the transition difficult, resulting in a dropout rate that is six-percent higher than average.

"The role transitions within higher education-particularly the shift from high school to college, and from community college to university-mark key points where students struggle, and in some case, dropout," said Peter Collier, project director for Students First. "One group that has been shown to be at particular risk is first-generation students. Because PSU is an institution that is committed to helping its students' succeed, there is a natural fit between the goals of the University and the focus of this project."

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE), the SFMP focuses mentoring efforts on two key areas. The first connects new students to a range of campus resources. The second provides first-generation students with proven strategies to make the adjustment to university life easier. Some of these strategies include how to recognize and respond to professors' expectations, make sense of a syllabus, communicate effectively with professors and manage time wisely.

During the 2006-07 academic year, a second cohort of new Portland State students will participate in the program. In addition, the program will be expanded to serve first-generation, community college students in an effort to help make the transfer process to Portland State smoother.

For more information on the SFMP please call 503-725-5307 or visit

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For Immediate Release (#05-171)

Source: Peter Collier (503-725-5346)
Project Director, Students First