A first-generation college student is an individual who is the first in their family to attend and graduate from college. This means that their parents, grandparents, or other family members did not have the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree or higher. First-generation students often face unique challenges and barriers to success in college, including a lack of understanding of the college experience, limited access to financial resources, and limited support networks. However, many first-generation college students overcome these challenges and go on to achieve great success in their academic and professional careers. Being a first-generation college student is often seen as a point of pride and a testament to a student’s determination and hard work.
As a first generation college student, you may face unique challenges in navigating the college experience. At Rider University, we understand these challenges and are here to support you every step of the way. This resource page is designed specifically to provide you with the tools and resources you need to succeed both academically and personally.
Rider University is proud to be designated as a First Gen Forward Institution. First Gen Forward is a program created by the Center for First-generation Student Success, a unit of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. The program recognizes colleges and universities that have made a commitment to supporting and advancing the success of first-generation college students.
First Gen Resources
Your journey at Rider starts in the summer with New Student Orientation. New student orientation is an important event for all incoming college students, but it is especially crucial for first generation college students and their families. Here are some reasons why:
- Introduction to campus resources: New student orientation is an opportunity for students and their families to learn about the many resources available on campus. This includes academic support services, counseling services, financial aid, and student organizations, among others.
- Connection to the college community: New student orientation is a chance for students and their families to connect with other students, faculty, and staff. This can help students feel more comfortable and confident as they transition to college life.
- Preparation for the academic experience: New student orientation provides students with information about their course schedules, academic expectations, and other important academic details. This helps students feel more prepared and confident as they begin their college journey.
- Understanding of campus culture: New student orientation helps students and their families understand the culture and values of the college. This can help students feel more connected and engaged with the university and its community.
- Support for families: New student orientation is an opportunity for families to learn about their role in supporting their students throughout their college experience. This can help families feel more confident and involved in their student's college journey.
Overall, new student orientation is an important event for first generation college students and their families as it helps to ease the transition to college life and provides a foundation for a successful college experience. By participating in new student orientation, students and their families can feel more prepared, connected, and supported as they begin this exciting new chapter in their lives.
- Academic Success Center: Our academic support services offer a wide range of resources, including individual and group tutoring, peer mentoring, and study skills workshops. Our goal is to help you build the skills you need to succeed in your coursework and beyond.
- Academic Dean’s Office: Interacting with the Dean's office is an opportunity for first generation students to build relationships with administrators who can provide support and guidance throughout their academic experience. They can help first generation students understand the requirements for their major, navigate academic policies, and create a plan for achieving their academic and career goals.
- Faculty and Staff Mentors: At Rider University, we believe in the power of mentorship. Our faculty and staff mentors are dedicated to helping first generation students succeed and reach their full potential. Whether you need help with coursework, career advice, or just someone to talk to, we are here for you.
- Student Navigation Office (SNO): Working with the student navigation office is important for first-generation college students because it provides them with guidance and support in navigating the college experience. SNO can help first-gen students understand and make the most of the resources and opportunities available to them on campus, such as academic advising, tutoring, financial aid, and student organizations. Additionally, SNO can help students understand college policies and procedures, and provide information on how to access additional support services if needed.
First-generation students often face unique challenges in college, including a lack of understanding of the college experience and its culture, difficulty navigating complex systems and processes, and limited access to support networks. By working with SNO, first-gen students can receive tailored support and guidance to help them overcome these challenges and succeed in college.
Working with SNO can help first-gen students make the most of their college experience and achieve their academic and career goals.
- Student Accessibility and Support Services (SASS): SASS provides support and accommodations to students with disabilities, including those related to physical, learning, or mental health conditions. These accommodations can help level the playing field for students with disabilities and allow them to fully participate in their college experience. For many first generation students, the process of requesting and receiving accommodations may be new and unfamiliar. Student Accessibility and Support Services can provide guidance and support in navigating the process and ensuring that students receive the support they need. SASS staff can serve as advocates for first generation students with disabilities, helping them navigate the college experience and ensuring that their rights are respected and protected.
- OneStop Services/Financial Aid: Rider University is committed to helping first generation students finance their education. OneStop can assist you in exploring the options available to you, including grants, loans, and scholarships.
- Work-Study Programs: Our work-study programs provide first generation students with the opportunity to earn money while gaining valuable work experience. These programs can help you offset the cost of tuition and other expenses while you pursue your degree.
- Counseling Services: Our Counseling Center team is here to help you with any emotional, mental, or personal challenges you may be facing. Whether you need support in managing stress, coping with anxiety, or dealing with relationship issues, our trained professionals are here to help.
- Student Organizations: Joining a student organization can be a great way to get involved, make new friends, and build your resume. Rider University has a wide range of organizations to choose from, including cultural groups, service organizations, and professional groups.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs: At Rider University, we celebrate diversity and strive to create a welcoming and inclusive community for all students. Our diversity, equity, and inclusion programs offer a range of activities and events designed to help you connect with others, learn about different cultures, and build a sense of community.
In addition to the resources available to our first generation college students, we also recognize the importance of supporting the families of these students. The following resources are available to family members of first generation students at Rider University:
- Family Workshops: Our family workshops are designed to provide parents and other family members with the information and support they need to help their student succeed. These workshops cover a wide range of topics, including financial aid, academic support, and campus resources.
- Parent and Family Council: Our Parent and Family Council is a great way for families to stay connected with the university and get involved in campus life. The association offers a range of events and programs to help families stay informed and engaged.
- Homecoming & Family Weekend: Each year, Rider University invites families to campus for a special weekend of events and activities. Family Weekend is a great opportunity for families to spend time with their student, tour the campus, and get to know the Rider community.
We understand that supporting a first generation college student can be a challenging and rewarding experience. Our goal is to provide you with the resources and support you need to help your student succeed and make the most of their college journey. If you have any questions or need additional support, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team. We are here for you!
- Educational Opportunity Program (EOP): EOP is a state-program that provides academic and financial support to first-generation, under-resourced, and historically underrepresented students in higher education. The program provides students with access to a wide range of services, including academic advising, tutoring, counseling, and financial support. The goal of EOP is to help students succeed in college and achieve their academic and career goals.
- TRIO Student Support Services Program (SSS): SSS is a federal program that provides academic and personal support to first-generation, under-resourced, and disabled college students. The program provides a range of services, including academic advising, tutoring, counseling, financial assistance, and mentoring. The goal of SSS is to increase the number of students who successfully complete college and move on to graduate or professional programs.
- McNair Scholars Program: The McNair Scholars Program is a federal program that provides support and resources to first-generation, under-resourced, and underrepresented students who are pursuing graduate or professional degrees. The program provides students with access to academic advising, research opportunities, mentoring, and other resources. The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to increase the number of students who successfully complete graduate or professional programs and enter careers in academia or research.
These programs offer valuable support and resources to first-generation, under-resourced, and underrepresented students in higher education. By providing access to academic advising, counseling, and financial assistance, these programs can help students overcome obstacles and succeed in college. In addition, by providing opportunities for research and mentorship, these programs can help students pursue advanced degrees and build careers in their fields of interest.
Center for Career Development & Success (CDS)
Working with the CDS is important for all Rider students, including first generation students, as it can provide them with valuable resources and support as they plan for their future careers. Here are some reasons why:
- Career exploration: The CDS can provide students with the tools and resources they need to explore their interests and career options. This can help students find a career path that aligns with their skills, values, and goals.
- Resume and cover letter development: Career counselors provide students with guidance and support as they develop their resume and cover letter. This can help students stand out to potential employers and increase their chances of landing a job after graduation.
- Internship and job search support: The CDS helps students identify and apply for internships and job opportunities. They can also provide support with interview preparation, networking, and other job search strategies.
- Professional development: The CDS offers a range of professional development opportunities, such as workshops, seminars, and networking events, to help students build the skills and connections they need for a successful career.
- Career counseling: The CDS provides one-on-one career counseling to help students navigate the job search process and make informed decisions about their career paths.
For first generation college students, working with the Center for Career Development & Success can be especially valuable as they may not have the same level of experience or connections to the professional world as other students. The CDS can provide them with the resources and support they need to succeed in their chosen career paths. Additionally, working with the CDS can help first generation students feel more confident and prepared as they transition from college to the workforce.
Here is a list of some common college terms that a first-generation college student might not be familiar with and their definitions:
- Academic Advisor: Someone who provides guidance and support to students in planning their academic careers, selecting courses, and meeting degree requirements.
- Bursar: The office responsible for managing and collecting student tuition and fees.
- Core Curriculum: A set of required courses in fundamental subjects, such as English, math, and science, that all students must complete as part of their undergraduate degree.
- Credit Hours: Credit hours are units of measurement that represent the amount of time a student spends in class each week. Typically, one credit hour is equivalent to one hour of class time per week for a semester.
- Dean: A dean is a high-level administrator who oversees a specific area of a college or university, such as a college or school within the university. Deans are responsible for managing academic programs, providing leadership to faculty and staff, and ensuring that their area of the institution is functioning effectively and efficiently.
- Elective: A course that a student can choose to take in addition to their required courses, often in a subject of their choice.
- GPA: GPA stands for grade point average, which is a numerical representation of a student's academic performance in college. GPAs are calculated by taking into account the grades a student receives in each of their courses, and are used by colleges and universities to assess a student's academic progress.
- Internship: A supervised work or training experience that provides students with practical experience in a particular field.
- Major: A major is a specific field of study that a student chooses to focus on for their college education. Students typically declare their major in their second or third year of college and complete a set of required courses in their chosen field.
- Minor: A minor is a secondary field of study that a student can choose to take courses in. Minors are less comprehensive than majors and typically require fewer courses to complete.
- One Stop Services: Rider’s One Stop Services is dedicated to helping students and families with financial related needs throughout their time at the University. Our team consists of the Office of Financial Aid, the Office of the Bursar and the One Stop Help Desk.
- Prerequisites: Prerequisites are courses that a student is required to take and complete before enrolling in a more advanced course. Prerequisites are typically specified by the college or university and are meant to ensure that students have a solid foundation of knowledge before taking more advanced courses.
- Provost: The provost is the chief academic officer at a college or university, responsible for overseeing all academic programs and initiatives. The provost works closely with deans, department chairs, and faculty to ensure that academic programs meet the needs of students and support the mission of the institution.
- Registrar: The Registrar’s office is responsible for managing student records, including course schedules, grades, and transcripts. The registrar's office is also responsible for maintaining the accuracy and integrity of student records and ensuring that student information is up-to-date.
- Student Government Association (SGA): An elected body of students who represent the student body and advocate for their interests to the administration.
- Study Abroad: A program that allows students to study at a foreign university for a semester or academic year (Short-term options of two-weeks or less are also available).
- Syllabus: A syllabus is a document that outlines the course content, goals, and expectations for a particular class. It usually includes information on course readings, assignments, exams, and grading policies.
These are just a few of the many terms that first-generation college students may encounter as they navigate the college experience. Understanding these terms and what they mean can help first-gen students feel more confident and prepared as they work towards their academic and career goals.
You’ve got this! Being a first generation college student is a significant accomplishment and a source of pride. It demonstrates a strong work ethic, a commitment to education, and a determination to overcome obstacles and achieve success.
We are proud to support first generation students at Rider University, and we are here to help you succeed in your college journey. If you have any questions or need additional support, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team. We are here for you every step of the way!