Turn First Generation Alumni into Mentors for Students Who Are in Their Old Shoes

Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University’s Newark campus, recently called on colleges to work to cultivate talent in prospective students rather than merely select for it. She proposed that institutions establish “farm teams” for high school students to help prepare them for college.

Syracuse University, where Cantor worked previously, is already working to diversify its campus racially and socioeconomically. Further, their Working Orange project connects alumni with current students. It would be great to see something like the Working Orange initiative connect first generation college students with alumni who were once in their shoes. Statistically, it could help increase the graduation rate of these students just as administrative and peer-to-peer initiatives are already. On the human level, it would ease the burden of being the first in one’s family to go to college and give alumni a powerful way to remain involved in their alma mater’s community.

At Switchboard, we’re deeply invested in making these connections possible. We’d love to see a college or university use Switchboard to help meet the needs of first generation college students.