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Recap 2014 CIC Walmart Foundation Symposium on First-Generation College Students

premier professional development opportunity for student affairs leaders, scholars, and practitioners in the higher education industry
premier professional development opportunity for student affairs leaders, scholars, and practitioners in the higher education industry
Tradina DeMary

Did you know? The CIC/Walmart Foundation Symposium on First-Generation College Students took place from Monday, July 7 through Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore, Maryland.

Walmart Foundation gave $1.3 billion in cash and in-kind contributions around the world
Walmart Foundation

The Council of Independent Colleges hosted the exclusive CIC/Walmart Foundation Symposium on First-Generation College Students. It was the biggest professional development event for independent university and college faculty & staff professionals of this Summer. Who knew one establishment could hold so many higher education experts in one building.

Did you know? According to a report from the Council of Independent Colleges, forty Independent Colleges in America received “$100,000 grants and 10 received $50,000 grants through the CIC/Walmart College Success Awards program which basically was created to help build on college initiative programs that show great promise of increasing retention for first-generation college students.”

The 2014 CIC/Walmart Foundation Symposium on First-Generation College Students was a one stop shop full of plenary presentations, scholastic seminars and networking events whereas, 50 CIC/Walmart College Success Award institutions shared what they have learned about retaining and graduating first-generation students.

Talk about all access to informative back-channel dialogues, firsthand networking opportunities, and not to mention an exclusive opportunity for independent colleges and universities that want to start, reinforce, or assess programs and services for first-generation students.

While attending the CIC/Walmart Foundation Symposium on First-Generation College Students, I had the opportunity to question Richard Ekman, President, Council of Independent Colleges and Barbara Hetrick, Senior VP for the Council of Independent Colleges.

Checkout what Richard Ekman, President, Council of Independent Colleges had to say when I asked him: What is the biggest challenge you face as president of the Council of Independent Colleges? How do you address that challenge?

Making the case is sometimes difficult that CIC’s 631 member colleges and universities are the most effective sector of higher education in meeting the high priority goals of increasing access to college and timely graduation. In fact, the percentages of low-income, first generation, and minority students who enroll in private colleges and universities is about the same as the percentages at public universities, but the graduation rates for students in all these categories are much better at private institutions. As the President and Secretary of Education, state policy officials, and funders embrace the goals of producing more college graduates from underrepresented groups, the challenge for CIC is to be sure these leaders understand that private colleges and universities have a superior track record and therefore deserve much more support than they currently receive.”

Did you know? According to Liberal Arts Power, “Securing America’s future will depend on the power of Liberal Arts Education.”

Check out what Barabara Hetrick has to say, when I asked if she could briefly give 5 tips of advice to First-Generation College Students.

  1. Choose a small College with a strong record of success with first-generation students and good rates of graduation.
  2. Be actively involved with challenging people and ideas.
  3. Find a mentor you can trust and who will help you make good decisions.
  4. If possible, live on campus.
  5. Participate in an active, meaningful, real world experience such as an internship, research with a faculty member, service learning opportunity or student teaching.

What else can I say, the interviews and conference were a great success with an attendee list of approximately 256 senior administrators in academic or student affairs, or staff members and faculty members who are responsible for programs and services for first-generation students from approximately 187 different institutions.

Be sure to meet Libby & Art via @smartcolleges on Twitter. Did you know? College student Libby and Counselor Art respond in real-time to actual comments and questions on twitter via hashtag #LiberalArts. They also post data, quotes, and content promoting the power of the liberal arts.

Yep, the 2014 CIC/Walmart Foundation Symposium on First-Generation College Students took place for 3-days offering plenary presentations, an educational luncheon, and seminars and networking events. I can honestly state that this year’s Symposium was an intimate and cozy affair with three plenary presentations, personal networking and approximately 15 educational seminars.

The educational sessions offered included key takeaway topics as such to include:

  • Recruiting and Orienting First-Generation Students
  • Focusing on the Distinctive Features of First-Generation Students
  • Developing Programs That Meet Student Needs: Academic Support, Life Skills, and Career Preparation
  • Acknowledging and Easing Financial Pressures
  • Bringing First-Generation Students to Campus early
  • Using Faculty and Staff Mentors
  • Involving Family, but keeping Expectations Realistic
  • Making First-Generation Programs Sustainable
  • Continuous Tracking of First-Generation Students
  • Institutionalizing a Commitment to First-Generation Students
  • Building Community, Promoting Engagement, and making it Fun
  • Training the Faculty and Staff
  • Using Peer Mentors
  • Keeping Track of Successes and Disappointments
  • Integrating Career Development with the Student Experience

The goal of the 2014 CIC/Walmart Foundation Symposium on First-Generation College was to allow 50 CIC/Walmart College Success Award institution representatives to share what they have learned about retaining and graduating first-generation students. With high hopes of all independent colleges and universities starting, reinforcing, or assessing programs and services for first-generation students to better shape the student experience as the world rapidly moves into the next phase of higher education.

This was my first Council of Independent College experience and I must admit it was a pleasure listening and learning to the great possibilities that waits whose looking to pursue educational credentials from Independent College across America. Oh, did I mention ending plenary presentation was delivered by Nicole Smith, Research Professor and Senior Economist from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Talk about a powerhouse of statistical data offered in here presentation!

This was definitely an educational Symposium worth attending for more information about the CIC/Walmart Foundation Symposium on First-Generation College Students, contact Philip M. Katz, CIC director of projects, at pkatz@cic.nche.edu or (202) 466-7230.

On a final ending note, you should know quite a few of the attendees were ranting and raving about how cool it was to have interacted with high level officials from The Council of Independent Colleges. Most attendees noticed how Richard Ekman, President, Council of Independent Colleges and Barbara Hetrick, Senior VP for the Council of Independent Colleges were down in the trenches with the CIC family interacting and listening to strengthen and grow the Independent Colleges across America.

FYI: The CIC/Walmart Foundation Symposium on First-Generation College Students was made possible a grant from the Walmart Foundation.