First Generation College Students: Navigating Higher Education

TRIO Program

One of the first individuals to recognize the need for a quality education for all was President Lyndon B. Johnson. In his State of the Union address entitled War on Poverty, LBJ expressed how everyone deserved the rights of citizenship, regardless of their race. He described the various effects of poverty on a human being as well as using education to ameliorate their suffering.

Following this speech, the U.S. created the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which included the creation of the TRIO Program. The TRIO Program is federally funded and encompasses three programs, or main strategies, to aid students from disadvantaged populations in their educational pursuits. These strategies include helping first-generation college students adequately prepare for college, providing second chances for those who not completed their secondary or post-secondary educations, and supporting FGCS throughout their collegiate years.

1. Upward Bound

Upward Bound provides fundamental skills and support to high school students from disadvantaged populations, including FGCS, as they prepare to enter college.  Upward Bound projects include "providing academic instruction in mathematics, laboratory sciences, composition, literature, and foreign languages" as well as "tutoring, counseling, mentoring, cultural enrichment, work-study programs, and education or counseling services" (U.S. Department of Education, 2015). By providing these opportunities to students, Upward Bound aims to have its participants succeed at the secondary level in order for them to enroll in and graduate from higher education institutions.

2. Talent Search

The Talent Search program targets individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to obtain a post-secondary degree. Talent Search projects include "tutorial services, career exploration, aptitude assessments, counseling, mentoring programs, workshops, information on post-secondary institutions, and educational or counseling services" to its participants (U.S. Department of Education, 2015). It also places a particular focus on individuals who have not completed education programs at the secondary or post-secondary level, so that they may enter or reenter and complete post-secondary education to improve their lives through increased opportunities. 

3. Student Support Services

Student Support Services (SSS) are located on college and university campuses to aid students from disadvantaged backgrounds throughout their collegiate careers. Higher education institutions receive funds to provide academic development, assistance with basic college requirements, and motivation for students to successfully obtain a higher education degree. SSS projects include "academic tutoring in reading, writing, study skills, mathematics, and science; advice and assistance about student financial aid programs and scholarships opportunities, and assistance in completing financial aid applications", among many others. The goal of this program is to increase the retention and graduation rates of its participants.

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