Friday, Mar 10, 2023
Explore how Rider helps first-gen students navigate the college experience
Are you a first-generation student? Though there are various ways to define a first-generation (or first-gen) student, the most common description is a person who is the first in their immediate family to attend college, or someone coming from a background where neither parent has earned a four-year college degree. While your situation may be unique within your own family, you’re not alone.
Nearly one third of all students currently enrolled in college in the United States are considered first-generation students, according to the Center for First Generation Student Success. The Center recently named Rider University a First-Gen Forward school. The designation recognizes institutions of higher education that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students.
At Rider, nearly a third of our first-year students represent the first generation in their family to attend college. That number is something to personally celebrate for our students and is something the Rider community takes pride in. While many first-generation students start at Rider after high school graduation as first-year freshmen, others find their way to Rider as transfer students or later in life as continuing education students seeking to earn their bachelor’s degree or as veterans applying their military benefits.
Being the first in your family to enroll in college may have you wondering what ‘going to college’ will entail. Like many students beginning college, first-generation students share some common questions about challenges that may lie ahead. Applying to college, dealing with finances, meeting new people, deciding on a major and then doing the work required of that major are what every college student wonders about. Luckily, there are people and resources on campus to help you get through the details and get you closer to your goal of earning a college degree. In addition to our general campus resources, Rider also offers resources designed to support and address the specific and unique needs of first-gen students.
Assistance starts on day one
Across campus, there are wide-ranging academic and social support resources available to students. Each resource is designed to help students succeed at every stage of their academic journey.
From the start, our Student Navigation Office (SNO) works closely with first-gen students to help them understand and make the most of the resources and opportunities available to them on campus. These resources range from the Academic Success Center that provides free tutoring, supplemental instruction and other services to maximize student learning and development, to our Counseling Center that offers individual and group counseling, and preventative services to support mental well-being. Additionally, SNO can help students understand college policies and procedures, and provide information on how to access additional support services if needed.
Building your community and a sense of belonging
During the fall semester, Rider commemorates First Generation Day, celebrating first-generation students, faculty and staff, and honoring their accomplishments.
Rider also hosts a number of focus groups, workshops and webinars to address the needs of first-generation students and their families. Topics include financial literacy, networking with faculty and staff, preparing for internships and careers, and more. In addition, peer-to-peer mentoring programs for first-generation students help to ease your transition to college life while growing your network on and off campus.
Like all students, we also encourage first-gen students to explore and join one of the many available campus organizations ranging from cultural and professional groups to service based organizations.
Layers of support for first-generation students
Rider offers a variety of programs and support services to help first-generation students succeed academically, personally and professionally.
Rider’s Student Support Services (SSS) program helps undergraduate students transition to Rider through orientation activities, workshops and resources designed to support first-generation college students, as well as students who are low-income and/or have a disability. SSS is one of eight federal programs known as TRIO.
Additionally, the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) provides academic and financial support to first-generation, under-resourced and historically underrepresented students.
Both programs provide students with access to a wide range of services, including academic advising, tutoring and counseling to help students overcome obstacles and succeed in college.
Programs that ensure your continued success
Rider participates in another TRIO program, the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement program. Also called the McNair Scholars Program, it aims to increase the attainment of doctoral degrees by primarily first-generation students and individuals from underrepresented segments of society. The comprehensive program fosters preparation for graduate school enrollment through research training, mentoring, instruction and other scholarly activity.
Beginning your journey at Rider
Interested in learning more about how Rider lifts barriers to student success for first-generation students? Schedule a campus tour or contact a counselor for information about your next steps to pursue a college degree.