The University Success Scholars at the University of St. Francis is a student program that serves as a resource and support for first generation college students. The University Success Scholars (USS) focuses on the particular needs of first generation college students and best ways to serve as a resource and guide. First generation college students can be defined in many different ways but we typically use the term to refer to students whose parents have not earned a four-year college degree.
There are different dynamics to consider when looking at first generation college students and the many reasons that can be used to explain why people may or may not apply to or attend college. Some students have a wide range of support from families who want them to attend college, and others are under pressure to enter the workforce directly out of school. This can cause confusion and lack of information about one’s options. Once making the decision to apply to and attend college, often the information does not become any less confusing. Frequently, a person is not sure what questions to ask, who to go to, or where to look to find answers. Even the terminology and college culture can be daunting.
The University of St. Francis has many offices and departments that are key resources for all students. The University Success Scholars can best be described as an added resource for first-generation students. Students who join USS participate in a network of programs including monthly meetings, mentoring and leadership opportunities, cultural field experiences and volunteer service projects, activities to engage with faculty outside the classroom, and some textbook assistance. The student meetings are held on a monthly basis, and special topics are discussed at each meeting. Group participants are encouraged to recommend topics of discussion and guest speakers so that the meetings are both informative and interactive.
Sample topics include:
- Financial Aid, Scholarships, Grants, Loans, and useful Databases
- Money Management and Budgeting for First Generation College Students
- Career Planning/Dress to Impress
- Academic Advising and Tutoring at the University of St. Francis
- Employment and Internships
The University Success Scholars sponsors one cultural field experience/volunteer service project each semester. These volunteer opportunities allow students to interact with people in Joliet and neighboring communities and gives students an opportunity to work with others similar to and different from them, thus broadening their understanding and appreciation for the diverse society in which we live.
Additional programs include:
- Take Your Professor to Lunch Day
- Annual Field Trip
- Annual Achievement Ceremony and Reception
Through participation in this group, students can earn incentive gift cards. Incentive cards are awarded to students each semester and are used as a way to defray the cost of books and class materials. The University of St. Francis knows many students lack important financial resources, and this is one way we try to help ease the financial gap for some students. Group participation provides an excellent opportunity for networking and communication in a relaxed and judgement-free environment.
Additional Resources and Information: imfirst.org