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IHCC Celebrates First Generation Students

By Nick Davis, November 10, 2017

Students and faculty at Indian Hills Community College and campuses across the country celebrated First Generation College Students on Wednesday.

First generation college students face a number of challengers when enrolling and attending college, says IHCC Trio Student Support Services Director Jessica Chickering.

“The difference is enormous. When you compare first generations students with those students who had a parent graduate college, first generation students graduate at a much lower rate,” Chickering said. “Nationwide, only 11% of first generation students graduate with a bachelors degree in six years.”

She says first generation students can struggle with basics like filling out forms, knowing what to expect on campus or even how they should act on campus. They may not have someone to turn to who can answer their questions about college.

Indian Hills has a number of programs designed to assist first generation students.

“We are very fortunate in that we have so many Trio programs. These were the first programs mandated by congress to bridge the gap between those that have an education and those that do now,” Chickering said. “We offer Student Support Services, the Educational Opportunity Center, Talent Search and Upward Bound.”

Nancy Nelson, Director of the Pre-college Trio Programs at Indian Hills, says that Talent Search is a program designed to help students prepare for college, beginning as early as middle school.

She says the Upward Bound program places high school students on campus during the summers. The students live in dorms for six weeks while attending classes and other activities such as college campus visits and regional cultural trips. The program is designed to help those low income and first generation students prepare for and become accustomed to a college environment.

Chickering adds that there are other criteria including income that can qualify students for one or more of the programs.

Students and staff wore stickers saying either “I support first generation college students” or “I’m first”, the latter signifying that the student or staff member was a first generation student. Chickering says she’s already started making bigger plans for next years First Generation College Student Day.

Nick Davis is a graduate of the Upward Bound Program at Indian Hills Community College. 

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