Office of Intercultural Affairs

First-Generation Student Services

Supporting First-Generation Students

A First-Generation college student is defined as a student whose parents did not complete a 4-year college or university degree.

Union College like many colleges and universities across the country has recognized that there is a need to better support First-Generation students. In the 2015-16 academic year, 56% of incoming first-year students identified as First-Generation, and 59% of the First-Gen students were also the first sibling in their families to attend college, making First-Gens an even more important member to provide service and support for. At Union, First-Gens make up roughly a little under 25% of each incoming class and that makes them a demographic of students who can slip through the cracks without direct support being provided. Thus far, two programs have been created to directly support and connect First-Generation students here at Union.

Bridges First-Generation Mentorship Program

  • The Bridges First-Generation Mentorship program answers a need at Union College to better support First-Gen students and help meet them where they are. First-Gen students across the country struggle to make the initial transition to 4-year colleges so a program like they should improve retention rates for Union College's First Year First-Gen students. The need for a program like the Bridges Program has been a need at Union College but was only addressed in pockets, where now there is a program directly designed to support and mentor this demographic of students. So far, the program is providing great advice on how to navigate Union College and certain tactics that helped make the professional staff on campus (the mentors) successful. This helps give the program’s mentees insight that they wouldn't receive anywhere else on campus.
  • Mentees and Mentors are matched up and are required to meet a minimum of three times a term.
  • There are two programmatical meetings a term that the mentees are required to attend, while mentors are encouraged to attend if their schedule permits.

The First-Gen Experience Pre-Orientation

The "First-Gen Experience" Pre-Orientation takes place two days before the regular Pre-Orientation sessions begin and is designed to help this particular student demographic get settled in and learn more about Union's campus and what it has to offer. With a good mix of fun activities and informational sessions, the incoming First Generation students should leave this pre-orientation experience with a sense of belonging and a wealth of knowledge of what resources are at their disposal during their first year and beyond. All participants of the "First-Gen Experience" will automatically be enrolled in the Pre-Orientation session of their choice free of charge.