Story, image and video by Jonnel Briscoe
For first generation students, the expectations for them to succeed in college or university can be nerve-racking. Especially when they don’t know where to turn to for support.
As a part of the provincial government’s initiative to support students who are the first in their family to attend a post-secondary institution, Durham College has received over $200,000 in funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
The first generation support programs at Durham College focuses on outreach, pre- and post-admissions support and also support for students throughout their studies.
The initial government funding enabled Durham College to develop a number of support services for first generation students.
Margaret Greenly, VP of Student Affairs at Durham College, says with the funding they were able to look at the big picture of the students needs, such as academic support, student engagement and student satisfaction.
With that, they created two programs through the Learner Support Centre where they developed five online student success modules that provide students with academic support 24/7.
These modules include academic culture, basic technology supports, keys to success, subject-specific supports and ESL conversation partners.
In addition to the modules, the college has also put in a First Generations officer who works directly with the students and responds to their unique needs and requirements to ensure a positive educational experience.
Students can also receive support from their home with the new E-mentoring program that was set up to inform them about support systems that are available. Students also receive monthly newsletters in the mail featuring information about upcoming social events and important dates and information on job fairs, housing tips and education financing.
They have even worked closely with students to develop a First Generations Club. Listen below as Greenly talks about what other services are available.
These services aren’t only available for first generation students. “I was impressed when the ministry turned around and identified first generation students as a target group,” says Greenly.
She says they learned that first generation students are often new immigrants and students with disabilities. They can also be francophone student or even aboriginal students.
“So by targeting funding for first generation, we were actually able to serve a large number of different target groups,” she said.
The funding introduced in 2010 will support the recently established First Generation bursaries, which range in value from $1,500 to $3,000 and provide direct support to students who meet eligible requirements and demonstrate financial need.
For more information on where to find support visit www.durhamcollege.ca or visit any of the support services mentioned above.