11th Annual Symposium
June 15-17, 2022 | Cleveland, OH

UNH’s First Generation Student Entrepreneurs Workshop and Lunch

“Exploring Entrepreneurial Engagement with FirstGen Students”

The University of New Hampshire and its Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center are hosting a free pre-conference open to all universities who share an interest and passion around the engagement of first-generation college students (FirstGen) in entrepreneurial activities. FirstGen is generally defined as the first person in a family to graduate with a four-year bachelor degree but even that definition is not universally agreed-upon. We hope this event (supported by UNH’s I-Corps grant on inclusive entrepreneurship and in collaboration with UMASS-Lowell) can help spark a community of practice around this important issue.

When: Monday, June 12th from 8:30 am to 1:00pm. This includes morning break food/beverages and lunch.

Where: UTEC Lowell, 35 Warren Street (across the street from the Deshpande Symposium). The pre-conference is limited to the first 60 registrations. There is no charge to attend.

There is no better way to accelerate success than to leverage best practices in the area of FirstGen entrepreneurial engagement and to learn from other universities’ failures and successes. Our focus will be on the sharing of best practices, idea generation, recent studies, and data collection surrounding FirstGen issues and how entrepreneurship engagement can help impact success. By hosting this event just prior to Deshpande, we can leverage a wider group of universities (both within and outside of I-Corps and the NIN) to address FirstGens’ challenges and disseminate information more efficiently.

At the pre-conference, you’ll:

  • Hear the regional similarities and differences in FirstGen students around the country
  • Discuss how innovation and entrepreneurship engagement with FirstGens has helped—and could help even more—in their successful education and careers
  • Join the brainstorming and creation of new ideas and solutions to this important group of students
  • Learn how UNH is trying to tie entrepreneurial activities directly to a reduction in student debt through its i2 Passport Program

FirstGen Background:

The U.S. Department of Education[1] reports nearly a third of undergraduate students are FirstGens. These students enter college at a significant disadvantage. As data from the Pell Institute[2] shows, just 35.8% of FirstGens graduate in six years (and only 10.9% of low-income FirstGens). Research clearly indicates that meaningful learning—the kind that leads to attainment of 21st century skills and delivers positive, lasting effects for life—emerges from engagement in high-impact experiences.3 Experiences like undergraduate research, service learning, and internships demand that students expand, apply, and integrate their learning beyond the college classroom. This presents a challenge to FirstGens as the long-term financial returns of these activities may need to be sacrificed for the short-term necessity of employment to pay for college. Fewer opportunities and higher debt creates an opportunity gap. And recent studies have suggested that student debt may have a direct impact on students’ entrepreneurial activities.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No.1548011.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

1 US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), 2012

2 http://www.pellinstitute.org/downloads/fact_sheets-6-Year_DAR_for_Students_Post-Secondary_Institution_121411.pdf

3 Kuh, 2008, High-impact educational practice; Pellegrino and Hilton, eds. 2012, Education for life and work).