The Award Winning News Publication of Mercy College

The Impact

The Award Winning News Publication of Mercy College

The Impact

The Award Winning News Publication of Mercy College

The Impact

First Generation Student Advice

First Generation Student Advice

“There are no conversations at home about college growing up. We don’t know who or what to ask about things we must look out for and what we might encounter going to college as a first-generation student,” says David Collins, a long-time Mercy University employee. 

Collins grew up not having a complete blueprint for finishing high school and didn’t have long term plans for life after 25.

His hand dealt had him fighting from doing a bid or ending up in a grave.

Collins, who is now the Director of Mercy University’s TRIO Student Support Services Project (SSSP), guides students who may face similar challenges he had in front of him.

That is why SSSP provides academic and support services to at-risk students who need to succeed in higher education and directs people to resources that they might not have been aware of. 

SSSP at Mercy University is a federally funded grant program of the United States Department of Education that provides opportunities for academic development. Services are intended to assist students with basic university requirements and motivate them toward completing their post-secondary education.

The qualifications for a SSSP student are they must meet at least one of the federal eligibility guidelines:

  • Be a first-generation college student.
  • Have low family income as determined by the federal TRiO Program.
  • Have a documented learning disability.

The counselors are there to encourage students to discuss personal issues that may impact their academic progress and work to resolve these issues.

“Life doesn’t stop when you go to college, so we are here to pick you back up,” Dobbs Ferry counselor Marvin Darko.

 Often, counselors see students who find themselves lost during their academic careers. They are switching their majors several times and are unclear about what they want to pursue.

The goal then is to increase career awareness and guide students in exploring potential professions.

The program successfully gets students at Mercy to graduation. SSSP has one of the highest retention rates of all the student assistance programs at the university.

In a Pew Research Center study, only twenty percent of adults with a bachelor’s degree from come parents with no college experience. These are the graduates that didn’t have a blueprint but became the new standard.

SSSP helps create these new standards for their families with academic advising, monitoring, and support, They assist each student in developing a personalized academic success plan while offering a variety of programs that support the academic needs of students.

Financial Aid also gets assisted directly and indirectly. Some summer courses get paid for partially or fully when in the program, while courses outside fall and spring don’t receive financial aid.

Collins and the rest of the SSSP get students to explore beyond the classroom. They bring them to unique cultural outings and activities, like dinner and seeing a show in New York City.

Students in the programs are responsible for meeting the requirements stated in our contract, as well as some additional requirements.

This consists of actively participating in SSSP activities, regularly meeting with their SSSP counselor, attending all COP/TRiO/SSSP general meetings, completing all registered classes each semester, and promptly submitting all documentation and forms on program eligibility and financial aid.

There are also workshops on time management and financial literacy.

“I personally want to be in the wardrobe department during graduation, so I get a chance to see students that were crying in my office to now walking across the stage,” Collin admits.

If you have any questions regarding this application or SSSP, please call (914) 674-7747 or (718) 678-8851 and ask to speak with an SSSP counselor.


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About the Contributor
Nate Singleton
Nate Singleton, Impact Staff
Nate Singleton is a Senior pursuing a degree in Media Studies: Journalism at Mercy University. He serves as the President of the Big Apple City Chapter of Groove Phi Groove S.F.I., President of the Black Student Union, and Director of Student Involvement for the Student Government Association. You can catch Nate dancing, reading, or even getting a tattoo when he’s not promoting academic awareness or community service. Nate writes a column titled Written Dissection, where he takes things he observes daily and dissects them to the core. He can be reached at [email protected].

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