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California State University, Sacramento

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Student Academic Success & Educational Equity Programs

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First-Generation Institute

Many first-generation college students have no prior exposure or knowledge of navigating higher education institutions. First-Generation Institute (FGI) is an innovative and student-centered program designed for students to integrate their college experiences into the world of work. Each topic, workshop, and speaker intended goal is to bring awareness and foster discussion of workplace etiquette and cultural nuances to develop skills and perspectives needed to progress from first-generation students to first-generation professionals students sitting around a table

Intended Impact

  • Increase degree-to-work readiness and post-graduation job placement, education or training that will lead to career success.
  • Improve academic success, retention and graduation of students.
  • Experiential learning opportunities that connect students with valuable leadership opportunities and resources available on and off campus.


Program curriculum

The body of literature on student retention and persistence (Astin 1977, 1993) and in recent decades, student leadership development theory (Lucas, & McMahon, 1998) guide FGI program development, implementation and assessment. As a First-Generation Serving Institution, Sacramento State mission and vision are woven into the curriculum to create an understanding of the contextual and environmental factors that shape the first-generation college student experience.

The curriculum implemented for FGI is developed from collaborative partnerships with academic affairs and utilize a network of regional employers and community partners to offer a wide variety of vibrant workshops and expert speakers with three focuses: 1) Communication Proficiency 2) Thinking & Reasoning and 3) Workplace Professionalism. Additionally, numerous sources including the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) seven competencies for career readiness are incorporated into the program design.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop the skills and perspectives needed to progress from first-generation students to first-generation professionals.
  • Create a customize Individualized Professional Development Action Plan to map out short and long term career goals, professional growth, and professional marketability.
  • Establish a network conducive for lasting collegial relationships with whom they can explore their identity and how it relates to their personal and professional success.

FGI intended program impact and student learning outcomes are assessed using an online pre and post assessment for each cohort of students. Formative and summative assessments are implemented to measure students’ perception of their career readiness. The data is compiled and analyzed into a comprehensive report disseminated across the campus and to regional partners.  

Sacramento State at a Glance

Note: Data Averages Fall 2015 – Fall 2018

  • Average age of undergrad = 23
  • % of Sac State students who are first-gen = 34%
  • % of Sac State students who identify as first-gen and receive the Pell grant = 54%
  • % of first-gen students who complete a bachelor’s degree in 4 years (first-time freshman only N=135) = 19%


Racial Breakdown of First-Gen Students

  • Hispanic: 39%
  • Asian: 25%
  • White: 14%
  • Not Specified: 6%
  • African American: 5%,
  • Pacific Islander: 1%
  • Native American: .75%