As we endeavor to close the opportunity gaps that plague our education and workforce systems, all factors that contribute to the career readiness of chronically underserved students must be examined.
In analyzing findings from their 2018 Student Survey, NACE (the National Association of Colleges and Employers) has found that, for first-generation students [defined for the analysis as ‘students whose parent(s) do not hold a bachelor’s degree], internship and study abroad experiences may have an even greater positive impact on career readiness than these experiences do for their non-first generation counterparts.
While the factors that contribute to this correlation are complex, institutions should take notice and strive to ensure that internship and study abroad experiences are as accessible to first-generation students as possible. Financial barriers to these opportunities are, of course, a primary concern. Most institutions do offer financial resources, or at least support in procuring outside financial assistance, to students who need them in order to pursue unpaid internships, or to relieve the fiscal burden that accompanies international travel.
These financial resources, not to mention the internship and study abroad opportunities themselves, are not always easy for students to find or navigate, often times even more so for first generation students whose parents are less likely to be familiar with these common passages of the American college student and able to help guide them.
A growing number of institutions are adopting uConnect’s technology to make it easier for students to find the opportunities and supports they need, including internships, study abroad experiences, and financial resources. Many uConnect institutions, such as Ithaca College, have also created digital communities for first generation and other historically underrepresented student groups on their platforms, to help ensure that these individuals are supported directly and comprehensively.
To learn more about how uConnect can help your institution support chronically underserved student populations, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.