Young people from all walks of life dream of going to college. In fact, eight of 10 expect to attain a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Despite these aspirations, however, students who are the first in their families to pursue higher education or come from low-income backgrounds are severely underrepresented on college campuses.
According to the College Board, high-achieving students from low-income families have roughly the same chance of enrolling in college as low-achieving students from more affluent families. More distressingly, those who do attend college rarely make it to graduation: According to a Pell Institute study, only 11 percent of low income, first-generation college students receive a degree within six years.
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is working to reverse this trend and has been recognized in Strive for College’s 2017 I’m First! Guide to College, a comprehensive college guidebook designed to help low-income, first-generation students make college a reality.
NJIT supports first-generation college students, and other traditionally underserved students, through a series of programs.
- The NJIT Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program assists low-income and first-generation or underrepresented STEM students in completing their bachelor’s degree and enrolling in post-baccalaureate degree programs toward ultimately obtaining doctoral degrees.
- The Educational Opportunity Program at NJIT offers academic support along with career and personal counseling to first-time full-time freshman and transfers students who may be educationally and economically challenged.
- NJIT’s partnership with the Give Something Back Foundation has enabled talented students from low-income households and underrepresented populations to attend college; many of these students are the first generation in their families to do so.
And, because NJIT believes that higher education institutions must support first-generation college students before they even begin their post-secondary education, the university’s Center for Pre-College Programs increases access to college and provides opportunities for success in STEM fields.
“Higher education is an investment, especially for families from lower income brackets, and a recent New York Times study determined that NJIT leads the nation in terms of the upward economic mobility it provides to students from low-income families,” said Joel S. Bloom, president of NJIT. “Our students know that an NJIT degree is both affordable and a catalyst for career success. The fact that they graduate with an average of nearly three job offers in hand and starting salaries almost 20 percent above the national average demonstrates that NJIT students will receive an immediate and lasting return on their educational investment.”
The 2017 I’m First! Guide to College features:
- 179 colleges and universities highlighted for their outreach efforts, financial aid opportunities and student support services.
- Articles and advice from experts and college students.
- An interactive college planning and preparation curriculum for students, teachers and counselors.
- Valuable information for parents and mentors, including a Spanish-language section.
About Strive for College
Strive for College was founded in 2007 by Michael J. Carter, then a student at Washington University in St. Louis, to help acutely underserved area high school students apply to college and navigate financial aid. College students volunteered as in-person mentors for high school students, and mentored students achieved substantially better college go-on rates than their non-mentored peers. Strive for College grew to become a respected college access organization, serving in-person mentoring across the country. Delivering its mentoring service at sufficient scale to make a meaningful impact on the national college access problem soon became Strive’s biggest challenge, which led to the development and launch of UStrive in 2014 to connect aspiring college students with free, one-on-one, online mentoring through the entire college admissions & financial aid application process.
After merging with the Center for Student Opportunity in 2016, Strive for College now runs ImFirst.org and publishes the I’m First! Guide to College in support of first-generation college students, and partners with colleges and universities to promote and strengthen their efforts on behalf of these students.
Strive for College counts Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, UPS, and Chicago Public Schools among its major funders and partners. Strive and their founder Michael J. Carter have been featured by CNN Heroes and Forbes 30 Under 30 and received major national media attention from outlets including Time, National Journal, and Fast Company. Learn more at www.striveforcollege.org.