First Things First: The First-Generation Pre-Orientation

“First Things First” is a pre-orientation pilot program designed to familiarize first-generation students with the college experience and the Wesleyan community. Up to thirty students from the Class of 2021 will be selected for the fall 2017. The program will begin on August 27 with a dinner featuring university leaders. The following two days will feature a variety of workshops that will connect students to resources on campus and help them develop strategies for success.

The pilot will provide opportunities for students to hear the perspectives of current first-generation students, gain study strategies for college (such as time management and organizational techniques), learn how to navigate financial aid paperwork and find work-study positions, hear from a faculty member about how to engage effectively with instructors and advisors, and gain information about writing techniques and resources, all of which have proven crucial to other first-generation students at Wesleyan. There will also be opportunities for students to connect with other first-generation students and the orientation leaders (as well as the campus itself) through different activities, whether scavenger hunts or playing capture the flag with students from the International Student Orientation. Through mentoring, skill-building and reflection, our hope is that students will gain strategies for academic success and build a supportive cohort that will be sustained throughout their four years at Wesleyan.

Current first-generation students will participate in their roles as Orientation Leaders and Academic Peer Advisors. Faculty members as well as staff members from Student Affairs and Equity and Inclusion, particularly the Dean for Equity and Inclusion, will play essential roles in the program.

First Things First will assist new first-year students in transitioning to the academic and sociocultural demands of college by putting clear and visible support structures and strategies into place.