A Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12 co-educational independent day school in Westchester County, New York

Research & Innovation Grants

I'm First (2022-23)

I'm First (2022-23)

Enrolling in U.S. higher education is a complicated multi-step process that includes completing college prep coursework in high school and navigating the admissions and financial aid process. Whether labeled “college knowledge” or “cultural capital,” students whose parents have their own experience and success in how to go to college have greater access to postsecondary education. Pew Research Center, 2021

There are approximately 15% of students at RCDS who are the first in their family to attend college, first in their family to attend college in the United States, or first to attend a four-year college experience. For many of these students, navigating high school and preparing for the college admissions and financial aid process is daunting. It is critical that these students and families receive additional support. How might the College Counseling Office create a tailored program for first generation students and their families so that they can successfully navigate through high school to college?

The “I’m First” program would provide formalized support, resources, and curriculum for RCDS students who are first generation to attend college, first in their family to attend college in the United States, or first to attend a four-year college. We plan to meet with students and families starting in the 9th grade to build trusting relationships that will allow us to have open and honest dialogue around the college process. Through intentional programming we will scaffold information about preparation for college including course selection, testing, enrichment opportunities, summer opportunities, and the college search and application process.

We plan to lead the following programs designed for "I'm First" RCDS high school students and their families:

  • Presentations and workshops for Grades 9 -11 students and parents/guardians led by the Office of College Counseling that include: overview and walkthrough of the college admissions process, overview and walkthrough of the financial aid process
  • Casual coffee check-ins and Q&A sessions for parents/guardians during Upper School Conference Days. 
  • Workshops dedicated to completing applications for first-generation students (examples: summer opportunities and financial aid applications, college fly-in, and diversity programs for first-generation students, etc).
  • Manual providing an overview of the college process for any student or parent/guardian who is going through the United States college admissions process for the first time. 
  • Guided college exploration opportunities including virtual tours, and information sessions with admissions staff for parents and guardians.


Susan Davidson
Senior Associate Director of College Counseling



Aimee Rincon
Associate Director of College Counseling