by Julie Carballo, Assistant Dean – First-Generation, Transfer and Veteran Initiatives
Greetings from North Central! It’s summer, which means incoming Cardinals — both first-year and transfer students — have been coming to campus for orientation before they start fall term classes on August 23.
Summer orientation should be a friendly, informative and fun experience for every new student. At North Central, our staff includes orientation leaders who, specifically, serve as a resource for first-generation college students — meaning that neither parent has completed a four-year degree. We also offer an information session for those students’ families.
Nearly 40 percent of North Central’s undergraduate students are first-generation, and we are nationally recognized as a leader in first-generation programming and student success. At many colleges and universities, programming for “first-gen” students is limited to a student’s first year or one day of celebration. Even then, the focus is often on challenges and struggles students may face. In contrast, North Central’s award-winning Cardinal First program spans from orientation through commencement and focuses on the new perspectives and positive contributions first-generation students bring to campus.
The mission of Cardinal First is to provide a supportive and welcoming community for first-generation college students and their families; a campus culture that recognizes and celebrates first-generation students as an asset; and a program that intentionally connects first-generation students to faculty, resources, information and experiences that promote academic and personal success throughout their college journey.
By the time they arrive here, Cardinal First students have proven they can overcome obstacles and blaze their own trail. We encourage them to embrace those experiences as a point of pride and empowerment — applying their talents and attributes to be successful inside and outside the classroom. Cardinal First students often hold leadership positions in campus organizations. They come to see how their achievements have meaning for their families and community, and they embrace the opportunity to become role models and inspiration for the next generation. They also embrace the intentional and strategic guidance we offer to help them learn new skills — like how to build a network with faculty and alumni, make the most of campus resources, and pursue internships or undergraduate research.
The results speak for themselves. Our Cardinal First students have a persistence rate of 91 percent over the past five years; in other words, they remain in college and achieve their goal of earning an undergraduate degree.
If you are, or know, a prospective first-generation college student, be sure to ask many questions as you evaluate institutions. Don’t be intimidated. If you are, then continue looking for a school that appreciates and celebrates how first-generation students make a campus community stronger. Interested in North Central College? You can find our application at www.northcentralcollege.edu/transfer/how-to-apply. For more information about our Cardinal First program, visit www.noctrl.edu/cardinal-first.