Janet Napolitano highlights U. of California efforts to support first-generation students

The University of California enrolls and graduates more first-generation students than any other U.S. research university, writes former Arizona governor and current University of California President Janet Napolitano in an op-ed for USA TODAY, emphasizing the university’s commitment to comprehensively supporting those students before and during their college experiences.

Forty-two percent of students across the University of California system—90,000 students— identify as the first person in their family to attend college. But students aren’t simply enrolling. According to the University of California Irvine Merage School of Business, 81 percent of the University of California’s first-generation students graduate within six years. The nation’s six-year graduation rate for all undergraduates at public universities hovers at around 60 percent.

In touting this success, Napolitano highlights a university-wide support effort that includes mentorship from faculty members who themselves identify as first-generation, academic and financial advising, and networking opportunities. The university system has also pushed for outreach programs in local K-12 public schools and community colleges.

Napolitano concludes by reminding readers that “the one tried and true tactic for increasing prosperity over the course of American history has been earning a college diploma,” and calling for efforts that “double down on proven ways to achieve the American Dream.”

How Georgetown helps first-generation students thrive

Georgetown is committed to ensuring that all students have the resources and support they need to succeed. The Georgetown Scholarship Program provides programmatic support to more than 650 undergraduates, and the 50-year-old Community Scholars Program prepares its multicultural cohort of first-generation college students for success with a five-week academic summer program and ongoing support. The Regents Science Scholars Program further expands opportunities for students from traditionally underserved communities pursuing studies in the sciences.

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