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UW-River Falls becomes part of ‘I’m First!’ program

February 4, 2015

UW-River Falls is proud to be among nonprofit Center for Student Opportunity’s (CSO) growing community of nearly 200 College Partners that share a commitment to supporting first-generation college students on their campuses.

Recognizing that students who don’t have a family history of higher education too often lack access to good information and support to navigate the path to and through college, CSO partners with four-year colleges and universities to promote and strengthen college opportunities for first-generation college students.

It is estimated that 24 percent of students enrolled in post-secondary institutions today are low income, first-generation college students. But nine out of every 10 will not earn a bachelor’s degree six years out from high school. They drop out of college at four times the rate of their peers whose parents have a post-secondary education.

UWRF and CSO are working to change this trend. CSO’s I’m First! project (www.imfirst.org) is an online community for aspiring first-generation college students–and those who advise them. The website, rich with student videos, blogs and advice, is an information hub through which students can research and connect with colleges like UWRF and learn about campus programs that support first-generation college students.

UWRF is also featured in CSO’s I’m First! Guide to College, the only comprehensive college guidebook for first-generation college-bound students.
Many of the programs supporting first-generation students at UWRF are housed in the Academic Success Center (ASC). The ASC provides a variety of opportunities, allowing students to participate in those that align with their personal and professional goals. The ASC offers pre-major advising for students who are undecided about a major, the Student Support Services and McNair Scholars TRIO programs, tutoring services, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) Success mentoring, and Multicultural Student Services, all of which are made available to students free of charge.
This past year UWRF also launched the Falcon 5 program. Falcon 5 creates clear pathways for students to begin and continue their involvement at UWRF, a factor found to be critical to student retention and success.

“UWRF is committed to student success, especially for students who are the first in their family to attend college,” said Kris Anderson, UWRF associate vice chancellor for enrollment and student success.  “As a first-generation college student myself, I and many of my fellow faculty and staff understand the unique needs and potential these students have. UWRF is very proud to partner with CSO and I’m First in welcoming prospective students to the Falcon Family.”

I’m First! is also a campaign collecting YouTube video stories from first-generation college student and graduates–like Michelle Obama–that inspire and offer advice to the next generation of students who will be first.

Four-year colleges and universities that care about first-generation college students are invited to apply and must be accepted for inclusion in CSO’s community of College Partners based on a demonstrated commitment to enrolling and graduating first-generation college students. UWRF is currently the only CSO Partner in the UW System and in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

In addition to promoting opportunities for first-generation college students on College Partner campuses via imfirst.org and the I’m First! Guide to College, CSO’s College Partner learning community fosters opportunities for colleagues to share ideas, learn best-practices, and model successful programs for recruiting and retaining first-generation college students.

For more information or questions regarding UWRF’s partnership with CSO and the I’m First! project, contact Anderson at 715-425-0699 or email kristina.anderson@uwrf.edu.