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Generation Orange was a program designed to connect first-generation students with the wide array of support services already available at Wartburg College. A coordinator was responsible for recruiting participants, and 41 students were enrolled in the project in Year One and 23 in Year Two.
Students met individually with the coordinator at least twice each month and participated in monthly group meetings to introduce them to the program and assist with issues they faced on campus. The goal was to establish a trusting relationship with and among the first-generation students and to facilitate timely communication about personal challenges and achievements.
An intentional effort to introduce the students to key people on campus began with the president and included personnel in financial aid and the study skills center.
Special content programs were available to the Generation Orange students. These programs included self-management (introduction to William Glasser’s control theory), team building activities, career information, student activities, two formal study skills sessions, financial aid and money management workshops, and end of the fall/year parties. The students decided to begin a scheduled study table and a subset of the students attended regularly.
The program provided various incentives during the year and at year-end for those who persisted. Each of the group’s monthly meetings included a drawing for an iPad or similarly valued item, and $1,000 scholarships were awarded to those who persisted. Those scholarships were renewed for the remainder of the students’ enrollment (that is, college-budgeted in the final two years).

Program Outcomes

At the end of the 2008–2009 academic year, Generation Orange students were compared with a control group of first-year students with a similar composition in terms of gender, potential academic risk, and mean ACT. The mean first-year GPA of the students in the program was 2.77 compared with 2.65 for the control group. The first-to-second-year retention rate was 98 percent, compared with 78 percent for the control group. Thus, the program achieved increased retention and improved academic performance.
More than 80 percent of the 2008–2009 Generation Orange students became intensely engaged in college life through participation in a club, musical organization, athletic team, theater activity, or student senate. The institution is strengthened by this student engagement.

Program Updates

In the second year, the Generation Orange coordinator’s responsibilities were combined with a live-in residential life staff position, and that is the plan going forward.