Many people underestimate how scary college can be for a first-time student.
Coming to a new place hundreds of miles from home and being only vaguely familiar with a college environment could be a nightmare. It could be especially difficult for a first-generation college student.
This was the mindset behind the Retention through Academic Mentoring Program (RAMP) at Humboldt State.
Sarah Bacio, a Coordinator for RAMP and an alumna of HSU, was a first-generation college student.
Bacio said she did not know much about college at first and that it was very difficult being ten hours from home. Bacio said that she wished a program like RAMP was around when she was a student.
“Coming in your freshman year, living in the residence halls, or even within your circle of friends, it can be scary having students who know so much about college and what’s going on because maybe their parents went to college, as compared to someone like yourself who may know very little,” Bacio said.
RAMP’s objectives address the need to improve retention rates of freshmen between their first and second year at HSU. They hope to create an atmosphere of peer-based academic support.
Through RAMP, all incoming freshmen at HSU are assigned a mentor. Mentors help develop positive academic study habits and skills, become familiar with campus culture and direct freshmen to the resources that are vital to their success as a student.
The mentors’ purpose is to provide new students with someone they can trust and talk to. The mentor can provide a space for freshmen to talk about the struggles of their first year.
Cherrish Robinson, a senior Critical Race, Gender, and Sexualities Major said that RAMP is important because it connects to the freshman in a way that is not superficial.
“One of the biggest perks is that RAMP is a peer-to-peer program, so we understand the freshmen because we have already been through similar troubles,” Robinson said. “Our program is dynamically changing to make sure we are meeting the changing needs of our student body.”
The program was bred out of an initiative orchestrated by Vynessa Ortiz — then a part of the housing staff at HSU —and Patty O’Rourke-Andrews, the current Interim Director of Housing.
In 2012, President Rollin Richmond gave permission to operate for two years and RAMP was introduced as a pilot program.
RAMP has reapplied for continuance of the program and now they must wait to hear whether or not they have been approved. Their proposal also includes a suggested RAMP center—a centralized place students can go to find assistance.
Tracy Smith, the Director of RAMP, wants to see it succeed and continue to grow.
“I would be very sad if RAMP was gone because I really feel like we are really on to something. RAMP is like a baby in a sense, and right now it’s in its infant stages. It takes time before any substantial data can be generated,” Smith said. ”The baby needs time to grow.”