5 things to explore on campus as a first-gen student

Did you know that there’s a “hidden curriculum” at college?

That’s what Rise Up Program Coordinator Jen Barnes describes as the things students need to know that aren’t necessarily part of the day-to-day class activities, such as adjusting to college life, finding career-building college employment, asking for help during tough times, making connections, and preparing for a career.

All college students have to figure out how to navigate a life in college, and since 2014, when Professor of Psychology Suzette Astley started the Rise Up Program, it has helped first-generation Cornell students find out which direction they should travel.

“I think the biggest thing that holds first-generation students back is that they are less likely to ask for help and less likely to have the confidence to put themselves out there for new experiences,” Barnes said. “If I had one thing to tell students it would be that no one knows all the answers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to reach for the sky when it comes to job or internship opportunities.”

Five things first-gen students should explore at Cornell College:

  1. Berry Career Institute–The Berry Career Institute has a full staff to help students find internships, perfect resumes, provide career guidance, and practice for interviews. It also hosts career road trips to places like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Des Moines.
  2. Internships, off-campus studies, alternative breaks–Some of these items can be expensive, but funds are often available to help offset costs. These experiences stand out on a resume.
  3. Cornell Summer Research Institute–CSRI is an opportunity for students to stay on campus over the summer and conduct research. It looks great on a resume for graduate school or a career.
  4. Academic advisors–Once you enroll at Cornell, you’ll be assigned a faculty or staff member as an advisor based on your interests. Take advantage of meeting with that person and really explore your options during the first year. Talk to your advisor about meeting other faculty members and find out how to schedule job shadow and volunteer opportunities.
  5. Cole Library resources–If you need study help, there are so many resources at Cornell. Staff members are always on hand in the Academic Technology Studio, The Center for Teaching and Learning, the Quantitative Reasoning Studio, and the Writing Studio. Don’t be afraid of failing and don’t give up!  

The Rise Up program helps first-gen students through programming, advice, relationship building, and much more.

2016-17 group photo of students involved in the Cornell College Rise Up Program
2016-17 group photo of students involved in the Cornell College Rise Up Program