Elon University selected for first cohort of First Scholars Network institutions

Elon is among 31 schools who have been asked to participate in the initiative after demonstrating a commitment to advancing the outcomes of first-generation students.

The Center for First-Generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation, is pleased to announce the inaugural cohort of First Scholars Network institutions.

Elon University was selected to join the network after demonstrating a commitment to advancing the outcomes of first-generation students through improving both first-generation student success initiatives and institution-wide approaches.

First Scholars supports the institutional desire to scale programmatic initiatives to support first-generation students throughout the student lifecycle and beyond. First Scholars draws upon carefully crafted institution-focused and student-centered actionable outcomes designed to deliver these results and provides a complete ecosystem of processes, tools, and guidance designed to work within Elon University’s specific environment.

“Elon believes in the transformative power of a college education and has a long history with students and alumni who were the first in their family to attend college,” according to Elon Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley. “As part of this national coalition, Elon will share about the good work happening here and build upon its efforts to help first-generation college students thrive at the university and beyond.”

Elon University joins 31 institutions in building upon already successful programmatic elements for broad scaling while creating systemic cultural shifts that address first-generation student success with intentionality. First Scholars aligns clearly defined, measurable goals with institutional data to identify gaps, track progress, and create systems allowing leadership to make informed choices resulting in improved student outcomes, strengthened enrollment management, collaborative programming, and preservation of resources.

  • The Odyssey Program is a highly selective merit-based program consisting of talented individuals who are academically strong, civically engaged, action-oriented leaders in their communities, who will benefit from an Elon education and demonstrate financial need.
  • The Elon Academy is a nonprofit college access and success program for academically promising high school students in Alamance County with a financial need and/or no family history of college. The academy includes three consecutive summer residential experiences prior to the sophomore, junior and senior years, as well as year-round Saturday programs for students and families. The summer after high school graduation, scholars and families participate in the Elon Academy Transitions to College Program. Once on their respective college campuses, Elon Academy graduates and families are provided with continuing support through the Elon Academy College Success Program to ensure college completion.
  • First-Generation Student Support Services is a new initiative that supports students who identify as first-generation college students. At Elon, first-generation college students are those whose parent(s)/legal guardian(s) have not completed a bachelor’s degree. Working with first-generation college students and other campus resources, the initiative strives to create a culture where the first-generation identity feels supported, empowered and celebrated throughout Elon’s campus.

“The landscape of first-generation student initiatives is continually shifting alongside the ever-changing needs of our communities, nation, and global society. As part of the First Scholars Network, Elon University will become a key partner in driving systemic change and looking to the future of first-generation student success,” said Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-Generation Student Success.

First Scholars institutions will partner with the Center for a two-year experience that will provide:

  • Expert Guidance and tailored resources converging to support institution-wide systemic transformation and provide on-time, first-generation thought-leader expertise;
  • An integrated framework that combines evidence-based and targeted solutions to propel institution-wide systemic transformation and confidently scale holistic student support across the academic career of first-generation students;
  • Robust inventory, assessment, and reporting structures focused on first-generation student support and institutional cultural shifts;
  • Scalable initiatives and programmatic toolkits customizable to the institution that address the immediate needs of administrators and practitioners; and,
  • Structured, cross-collaborative learning with institutional partners from across the higher education landscape.

“First Scholars provides a unique balance of bringing first-generation student initiative scaling into focus while drilling down into how Elon University recalibrates institutional systems to elevate potential and advance outcomes for first-generation students.  This approach positions Elon University to be a leader in first-generation student success,” said Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA.

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To learn more about first-generation efforts at Elon University visit the Center for Access and Success’s website at www.elon.edu/u/academics/access-and-success. To learn more about First Scholars and the Center for First-Generation Student Success, visit firstgen.naspa.org.

NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Its work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and eight U.S. territories. Visit naspa.org for more information.

The Center for First-generation Student Success is the premier source of evidence-based practices, professional development, and knowledge creation for the higher education community to advance the success of first-generation students. Through four strategic priority areas, the center drives higher education innovation and advocacy for first-generation student success.