Return to Program Profiles College of Saint Benedict

The CIC/Walmart College Success Award enabled the College of Saint Benedict to hire a First-Generation Program Coordinator who led the development of the program and recruited students to participate. Each month, student participants were offered a workshop on topics such as financial aid, study skills, test preparation, and registration. A second set of workshops were designed for sophomore first-generation students. Also, each month one or two social events were planned, such as recreational activities, receptions, and dinners. These workshops and events allowed participants to meet other first-generation students, strengthened their connection to the campus, helped them meet faculty and staff members, and connected them with services that would help them achieve success.
Student newsletters were published regularly and emailed to students. Two issues of a parent/family newsletter were mailed so that family members would be in a better position to provide their student with support and encouragement. In the second year, parents of first-generation students were invited to a social event during family weekend.
Members of the college faculty and staff who also were first-generation students volunteered to support the program. This made it possible for the college to add a mentorship program for first-generation sophomores in 2009–2010.

Program Outcomes

The first-to-second-year retention rate for students who participated in the inaugural year of the program was 96.7 percent, compared with 90 percent for all first-year students. First-year, first-generation students were retained at a rate of 95 percent between semesters, compared with 96 percent for the whole class. For the year, 88 percent of the class was retained versus 86 percent of the first-generation students.
GPAs for the first year also were comparable: 3.29 for the class versus 3.16 for the first-generation students in the first-year class, suggesting that improved academic performance also was a product of the initiative.
First-generation students who participated in the CIC/Walmart College Success Award program showed even stronger results than the total first-generation group. The former were retained at a 94.2 percent rate, with a 3.21 GPA versus 82.6 percent retention and 3.13 GPA for the non-participants. Thus, the participants were retained at a higher rate than all students and nearly matched the GPA of the whole class (3.28 versus 3.21).
These results were mirrored in the second year of the program.

Program Updates

The program continues under the supervision of the Dean of Students. This includes regular social gatherings, newsletters to students and parents, workshops, and the mentoring program.