Talent Dividend Work

First-generation students are Trailblazers in Baltimore

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One of the keys to achieving the Talent Dividend is to make sure everyone who enrolls in college can make it through – and for first-generation students or students who may not have been well-prepared academically in high school for college level work,  that's a more difficult path to navigate. Several institutions of higher learning in Baltimore have found ways to address the issue by providing student with mentors or with extra help. 
At Coppin State University, students who need remedial help before beginning college level work can join a summer bridge program known as the Summer Academic Success Academy during the summer before their freshman year. Students get a taste of college life and college level work by completing college courses, attending workshops and receiving tutoring in subjects where they need some extra help, and also participate in social and leadership activities to get a feel for college life.

"They are finding great community partners and great faculty participation," says Kristen McGuire, executive director of Baltimore Collegetown, a network of 14 higher education institutions that work together to connect students to the city. "This starts getting them prepared on day one."
Another exemplary program is part of the women's college at Notre Dame of Maryland University. Their Trailblazers program matches first-generation college students with junior and senior students who are themselves first-generation college students in a "big Sister" program. Students also have the opportunity to attend workshops focused on college success and the transition to college, and network with successful first-generation alumni.

"They try hard to induce a lot of the bonding they need between students to help them be successful," McGuire says.
Most of the institutions that serve first-generation college students not only have programs of their own, but they network with other institutions to share concerns and best practices, McGuire adds.

Source: Kristen McGuire, Baltimore Collegetown
Writer: Amy Kuras

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