Chapter 6Campus Policy Recommendations
The first year of college is a time of significant transition and adjustment for all young people. This experience can be even more daunting for youth coming from foster care, especially if they are the first in their families to pursue higher education. Some institutions and specialized educational programs offer summer immersion programs as an enhanced orientation for first year students to help them adapt to college life and provide opportunities for academic remediation or early credit accumulation.
Many colleges require a more intensive orientation as a condition for admission for some student groups, such as the required summer seminars in the opportunity programs, or the Options Center at Goddard Riverside Community Center. This program provides low-income and first-generation students with training, advisement, and transition support as they enter their first year of college. This same protocol would benefit college students with a foster care background by putting them on a path to success starting at orientation.
Foster youth typically don’t receive as much college advisement prior to beginning school as compared with their peers in the general population. Without this guidance, students often enter college with unrealistic expectations and are less equipped to deal with issues related to course overload, loss of financial aid, and course completion. The Washington State Passport to Success program, which aims to increase the college enrollment and completion rate among foster youth, saw between a 40% - 88% retention increase for students that accessed passport services.3
To help students address these common challenges, institutions can offer enhanced student orientations that cover topics such as:
- Financial Aid
Maintaining Financial Aid • Course Enrollment Requirements • Financial Aid Loss Appeals.
- Course Enrollment
Add/Drop Periods • Preserving GPA (including Incompletes, Credit/ No Credit Options).
- Student Support Services
Mapping Campus Resources (e.g., medical, mental health, student clubs, study aboard, etc.).
- Leave of Absence Requests
Medical • Partial Unenrollment.