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“I think the biggest challenge was to work harder to be at the same level as students who are not first generation. You feel alone. You feel the struggle of ‘I see all these people getting the best grades, and I’m here struggling because I didn’t have the access to take this AP course, or take this honors class.’” — Arturo Max Longoria ’21

First-generation students face distinct challenges at elite institutions

Although these students are as talented and capable as their peers, national research shows that they are:

  • half as likely to complete their degrees in a timely fashion (or at all)
  • less likely to make use of student services designed for them
  • less likely to participate or receive national scholarships and fellowships
  • less likely to feel confident in their abilities
  • more likely to feel out of place

RESPONSE: First@Colgate

First@Colgate is a network of support programs that ensure first-generation students experience success at Colgate.  

Through First@Colgate, first-generation students engage in a pre-orientation program to boost social connections and academic preparedness. Throughout their four years at Colgate, they receive additional support, including mentorships, social events, leadership opportunities, extra advising, and programs connecting them to resources on campus. Students also benefit from resources available through the Center for Learning, Teaching, and Research as well as career services, the counseling center, registrar’s office, academic advising, and other offices across campus.

“One of the strongest pillars of the pilot program was the sense of community that was built. As we expand the First family we want to ensure that this close-knit community is not lost.” —RaJhai Spencer, Director, First@Colgate

For more information, visit the First@Colgate webpage:

Members of the Class of 2023 gather together for a photo during pre-orientation.

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