Return to Program Profiles Notre Dame de Namur University

The CIC/Walmart College Success Award allowed Notre Dame de Namur University to institute its Gen 1 program in the fall 2010 semester. The Gen 1 program provided first-generation students with a leg-up to succeed in college by providing the access and the tools they need to achieve academic excellence at the university. The program had three components: a learning strategies course that focused on improving reading and study skills; a speaker series that provided practical information including general information about college, financial aid, and careers; and a mentor program that paired upper-level students, many of whom also were first-generation, with a small group of first-generation students. Students who earned a 2.5 GPA during their first year, passed the learning strategies course, and attended Gen 1 events received a $1,500 scholarship toward sophomore year tuition.
The program also printed periodic newsletters, written in both Spanish and English, that were distributed to parents and others.

Program Outcomes

In 2010, 65 first-generation students participated in the Gen 1 program, and by 2011 the number rose to 86. First-generation students who completed the program had increased retention compared with students who did not participate. For the fall 2010 cohort the retention rate for Gen 1 students was 85 percent compared to 77 percent for all first-year students; and for the fall 2011 cohort the retention rate was 84 percent for Gen 1 students compared to 81 percent for all freshman.
At the beginning of each semester, students were tested on their critical reading and comprehension skills then retested after completion of the learning strategies course. The number of good scores on an informal reading inventory for main idea increased more than fourfold: from 9 to 42 percent for the fall 2010 cohort and from 17 to 29 percent for the fall 2011 cohort. In addition, two-thirds of the students scored fair or better after taking the course, more than double the number at the start. This reflects improved academic performance.
In the second year, an attendance requirement was added to the speaker series program.

Program Updates

The university reports that the program has been institutionalized. The scholarship, however, has been reduced to $500.