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Information on Defiance College's First Generation Student Program, DC F1RST.


Defiance College's First-Gen program!

First generation college students have always been and continue to be an integral part of Defiance College's community. To provide assistance to this population, Lisa Crumit-Hancock and Dr. Agnes Caldwell, developed a peer mentoring program adapting Costa and Kallick’s Habits of Mind platform. The Habits of Mind are an identified set of 16 problem solving, life related skills, necessary to effectively operate in society and promote strategic reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity and craftsmanship. The understanding and application of these 16 Habits of Mind + an additional habit, identified specifically for our college students, serve to provide the individual with skills to work through real life situations that equip that person to respond using awareness (cues), thought, and intentional strategy in order to gain a positive outcome. 

  • The pilot program started in 2019-20 with five sophomore peer mentors and ten first-year first-gen participants.
  • These peer mentors are assigned two mentees with whom they are expected to meet regularly. 
  • The mentees applied to the program and those chosen to participate receive a $100 book voucher at the end of each semester for completing the program.
  • There are meetings with the entire group in both the fall and spring semesters with a final celebration at the end of the academic year.
  • At each monthly meeting students complete two short chapters with discussion questions. Each chapter focuses on one of the 16 + 1 Habits of Mind. 

Advice for first-generation college students: 

 Recognize that you are not alone; many first-gen students are thinking about and struggling with the same issues you are confronting.

 You should be proud that you have taken an enormous risk in furthering your education, and while it may not be easy, it speaks volumes that you have enrolled in college. Pat yourself on the back and keep patting yourself — you are helping yourself. 

 Don't be too quick to judge fellow students, professors or others you encounter. Give people a chance. They may come from different backgrounds and cultures and religions, but there is value in difference and often remarkable similarities if one is open to that possibility.

 Don't become isolated, staying out of the fray, engaging only with folks from your past and burying your face in your phone or computer. Sticking out one's neck isn't easy or comfortable, but it can yield remarkable benefits. Try it — even in short bursts. The rewards should outweigh the fears.

 And, finally, don't be afraid to ask questions. There are no stupid questions. Ask people for help. Ask for support. Ask for guidance. Asking is good and is not a sign of weakness. In fact, asking is a sign of strength. Don’t think it’s all or only up to you to make it through college. A quality institution also has a responsibility to its students, so if you are struggling, don't be scared to make them aware of what is troubling and even suggest needed changes.

Congratulations in choosing to further your education at Defiance College! You are making a great choice to attend college and many people are ready to assist you in making your experience successful. A first-generation college student at Defiance College is defined as a student whose parent(s)/legal guardian(s) have not completed a bachelor’s degree. This means that you are the first in your family to attend a four-year college to attain a bachelor’s degree. Being first-generation is a very proud accomplishment. We recognize that you will face unique experiences as you begin this exciting journey, and we look forward to supporting you and bringing together the first-generation community at Defiance College!

DC F1RST Application


Image link to I'm First website

I’m First! was created by nonprofit Center for Student Opportunity in 2013 to provide students who lack a family history of higher education with inspiration, information, and support on the road to and through college and is now an initiative of Strive for College—a national nonprofit that also runs a national online mentoring program for college-bound students.

Image link to the Center for First-Generation Student Success website


An initiative of NASPA and the Suder Foundation to assist colleges and universities in helping first-gen students succeed. They don't work with first-gen students directly; however, this linked logo will take you to a variety of resources they have compiled for first-gen students. There are sections with tips for high schools students and college/university students, valuable articles from news sources about first-gen students, resources for first-gen plus students, and a Student Voice form that allows first-gen students to share their stories. 

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