F1rst Fridays Program Provides Support to First-Gen Students

On the first Friday of every month, the Center for Student Success hosts F1rst Fridays, an event targeted toward first-generation students at Oberlin — students whose parents did not attend a four-year college. Students can engage in activities meant to support them in  a space where they can get resources specifically tailored to the first-gen experience. 

“So the first Friday of every month, we will typically host something for our students and an email goes out to invite them,” Director of Student Success and Success Coach Nicole Williams said. “We’ve had some that have been social, but typically it’s something that’s gonna teach them or provide them some type of success strategy. It’s also a time just to connect with other first-gen students, faculty, and staff who identify as first-gen as well.”

The most recent F1rst Friday took place last week and addressed goal setting. Saint Franqui, an Executive Functioning Program tutor and College fourth-year, taught participants ways to implement goals toward the end of the semester.

“We talked about the challenges with setting goals and talked about what setting realistic goals looks like, especially in a first-gen/low income context,” Franqui said. “I broke down SMART goals for the group and offered strategies for staying on the top of the goals students set, as well as tips like using [Google Calendar] or other habit tracking apps like Habitica to keep motivated [and] on track.” 

Although the CSS saw significant staff turnover at the beginning of the semester, much of the programming for students has remained the same and the overall goal of the office has not changed; many of its services are still directed to first-generation students, low-income students, and students with disabilities.  

“Historically, the Center for Student Success has served first-gen students and been a home for first-gen students here on campus, and that work continues,”Assistant Dean for Student Success Rebecca Morrow said. “F1rst Fridays [are] something that the students know, and that’s why we have continued to do it on Fridays.”

Williams emphasized the importance of the program in helping first-generation students find their footing at Oberlin. 

“I think it’s just a way of exploring your identity and also building that community, which is really important,” Williams said. “Also, it’s important to make sure that students are aware of the resources that are on campus. As a first-gen student … myself, I know if you don’t have support, you may miss something along the way because your family is not aware of the financial aid process, so you need to go ask some questions.”