Return to Program Profiles Kalamazoo College

With its CIC/Walmart Award, Kalamazoo College extended financial support for first-generation students to broaden their participation in the college’s already successful internship and externship programs. These students often make choices based primarily on financial concerns that can limit their exposure to key elements of the Kalamazoo curriculum and plan. These internship and externship experiences provided income for the students while enhancing career exploration and professional networking opportunities.
In addition, first-year, first-generation students and their families came together with faculty and staff members in September to participate in “A Day in the Life” brunch. Participants learned about available college resources from upper-class, first-generation students and faculty members and received information about internship/externship opportunities.
A welcome reception also was held after the beginning of classes and was attended by many faculty members, particularly those who were first-generation students themselves. This reception was a kickoff activity and a recruiting tool for programming. That programming consisted primarily of bi-weekly meetings held during the college’s “common hour” that focused on topics largely identified by students. Typical topics were time management, internship/externship overview, financial aid, and service learning programming.
During the 2008 fall term, a group of upper-class, first-generation students formed an advisory group to provide additional support for first-year, first-generation students and to help create a “parent tool kit” for their families.
One additional result of this initiative is that first-generation students at Kalamazoo have formed their own student organization.


Program Outcomes

The CIC/Walmart College Success Award enabled the college to serve first-generation students more effectively, but the institution was strengthened, too. The support and structure of the program empowered first-generation students to make bolder choices regarding their field experiences both locally and around the nation. Many of these opportunities would not have been possible without the funds provided by the CIC/Walmart Award.
An increased retention rate among first-generation students participating in the first year of the program was achieved with 92.3 percent persisting, which is comparable to and slightly better than the retention rate for all first-year students at the college (89 percent).
The program also identified a need for improved data systems to identify and track the progress of first-generation students. Those systems have been developed.