Initiatives

students

Since its inception, First-at-LAS has launched several initiatives to meet the goal of supporting the academic success of the college’s first-generation college student population. Each program directly aligns with our goals and is briefly described below.

As First-at-LAS evolves, we are committed to continuing our mission of expanding the college’s footprint in support of first-gen success. Informed by data as well as faculty, advisor, and student feedback, we will continue to develop our menu of programs.

If you are interested in collaborating or learning more about our efforts, please contact us.

Program descriptions and helpful links are below.

First-at-LAS in collaboration with LAS 110: Experience UIC, the College’s First-Year Seminar Course, designed two modules for instructors to use to facilitate class discussion and activities. The modules, created with first-generation college students in mind, covered two separate topics to align with the course’s mission of supporting the college transition and helping students learn how to be successful in their first year of college. Specifically, topics focused on assisting students in creating a campus support network by identifying and communicating their needs through positive help-seeking behaviors; and helping students craft an empowering first-gen narrative to raise awareness and celebrate this experience within LAS and UIC.

The Student Drop-In Hours Project is a pilot program that reimagines traditional office hours and approaches to engagement by using student-centered strategies. Designed to encourage and facilitate student interactions with faculty, the primary goal of the pilot program is to promote positive help-seeking behaviors in students, support academic success, and increase students’ sense of belonging on campus. The drop-in hours project provided faculty with a menu of optional strategies to select from and implement in their courses. It focused on the following broad areas: introducing student drop-in hours, building personal connections to encourage the use of student drop-in hours, use student drop-in hours for course center hours, and offering virtual or requiring attendance.

The Tell Me Your Story Campaign strives to engage LAS first-gen college students as well as faculty and academic advisors in conversation that leads to positive identity building, productive pathways for communication, and help-seeking behaviors. The campaign utilizes multiple platforms to spread this message, including posters for faculty and staff to display in offices, prompt cards with questions to help faculty and staff facilitate conversations, videos featuring students, faculty, and staff sharing their first-gen experience, and an essay contest for students to tell their stories. Review data in our 2019-2020 End of Year Report.

The Faculty-Student Mentorship Program links small groups of students to faculty in their academic disciplines – Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities. In these small groups, students connect with faculty and peers around similar subject areas, engage in conversations and activities that promote academic, personal, and professional development, and learn strategies to navigate and excel in LAS and UIC. Review data in our 2019-2020 End of Year Report.

The First-Gen Student Board is a leadership opportunity for students to join the first-gen conversation in LAS. Students will serve as an advisory board to provide direction for First-at-LAS, work with academic departments on different initiatives to support current and incoming first-generation college students, and host events for peers that enhance and enrich the college journey.