Unlocking Educational Opportunities for First-Generation College Students in Manassas Park, Virginia

The EIP provides access to educational resources, tutoring, and programming for students from seven local public school systems, including Fairfax, Manassas City, Prince William, Arlington, and Alexandria City counties. The program is designed to equip students with the skills they need to become lifelong learners, leaders, and responsible global citizens. George Mason University students, many of whom are first-generation college students, are involved in the tutoring process. The initiative includes personalized itineraries that have enabled students to have more choice and voice, develop critical thinking skills, be more creative, and make academic progress.

A set of tools is used to get to know students better and measure their college and career readiness. The FGCSA summer camp is a three-day training session specifically designed for third-year students who plan to join the FGCSA college cohort program in the fall. The Virginia Community College System works with Virginia state colleges to create guaranteed admission agreements that meet university standards. Independence Non-Traditional School offers K-12 students a comprehensive educational program that combines the leadership, professional, and social skills needed to succeed in the 21st century with existing Prince William County public school curricula. The REACH Project helps students improve their reading abilities.

Teachers and tutors have reported that these students are also motivated and interested in school. Students who take challenging courses during high school tend to do better in college and can get more stable employment. This program was created to provide opportunities for underserved youth to be the first in their families to attend college. Amaya, who works part-time at a restaurant to help her family financially, says she hopes to meet new people in college and continue with her goal of finding a satisfying career. Additional information and resources on college and career readiness can be found on the college and career readiness website.

Students and parents took part in schools and person-centered transition courses, and a vocational profile was developed for each student. Students have the chance to graduate with a Virginia high school diploma as well as an associate degree in computer science from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. The Guilford County Schools' First-Generation Ambassador College Student Cohort (FGCSA), managed by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, is now in its fifth year. Students transferring from a private school or another state to a Prince William County public school will work with their school counselor to create an individualized graduation plan that allows them some flexibility to meet the graduation requirements set by the Virginia Department of Education.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher education in Virginia and one of the largest community colleges in the United States. The regulation that sets the accreditation standards for Virginia public schools has given families the option to request that grades be omitted from the student's academic record in any high school course that demonstrates secondary education credits. Students must make sure they have enough time to participate in extracurricular activities both at school and in their community. Furthermore, the rigorous training university tutors receive has better prepared them not only to teach reading classes effectively but also for a future career in education.