TRIO Student Support Services

TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) students have one or more of the following identities: represent the first generation in their family to pursue a four-year degree, are low-income, and/or have a disability.

Tips for Advising

U of MN TRIO Student Support Services

TRIO SSS is the TRIO program most advising and career professionals on this campus will interact with. TRIO SSS students begin their college career in CEHD and then, with support from their TRIO SSS advisors, may apply to transfer to any other undergraduate college or remain in CEHD. There are upwards of 800 TRIO SSS students on campus. In addition, there are many other TRIO-like students  on campus who were served in pre-college TRIO programs. TRIO SSS students are also admitted into the University as Presidential Emerging Scholars students. To find out if you have a TRIO SSS student on your caseload, look for the “NTRS” code under “Student Groups” on PeopleSoft. (NOTE: do not use the “TRIO” code. This code is also offered in APLUS under characteristics.). Learn more about the history of TRIO.

Nuances of working with TRIO SSS students

TRIO students enhance the academic experience for more privileged students via their ability to navigate multiple cultures, multilingual skills, and lived experiences. They are high-achieving students who mostly attended under-achieving high schools in underprivileged communities. TRIO SSS students vary across race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, physical /mental ability, gender, language, family status, etc. Although TRIO programs are not race-based, poverty and race disproportionately intersect in MN and most TRIO students are students of color. This means many TRIO students experience racism in the classroom and other spaces on campus. Other significant realities include:

  • Pell grants, the scarcity of need-based scholarships, and other financial aid for TRIO SSS students often falls short. Fees for high impact activities are often non-existent.
  • Less than half of the TRIO SSS students live on-campus their first year compared to over 80% of their peers. The bulk of TRIO SSS students are commuters, some traveling far distances, either driving and hustling for parking, or using public transportation.
  • TRIO SSS students often focus on day-to-day living that poverty requires (food, shelter, safety). It can be difficult to find additional time to navigate the University bureaucracy, an already unfamiliar process.
  • Folkways of academic culture and college life are unfamiliar. Families and community may not prioritize “external” academic experiences.

Advising TRIO SSS Students

Like all students, TRIO SSS students need to be guided and supported, not saved. Most TRIO SSS students, by the time they get to you, will have built up strong relationships with one or more TRIO SSS adviser. They are used to advisers who also served as advocates, references, coaches, cheerleaders, mentors, and overall, community. This transition period is key so it will be important to establish rapport early. If you are running into a problem connecting with a student, contact their former TRIO SSS adviser for insights into how to support particular students. General advising tips include:

  • Develop an understanding of barriers and cultural nuances: We have a lot of hidden rules we assume students know about on campus. Find out what the student understands about particular bureaucratic procedures and walk them through any challenging processes. Make the implicit explicit.
  • Reinforce the cultural capital of TRIO SSS students and value their engagement, what they bring to the experience, and how diversity makes everyone smarter.
  • Be responsive and available: Make time for students and their families. Communicate with parents about college activities and expectations.
  • Make real connections with the places on campus where TRIO SSS and other underrepresented students on campus find community; network with your peers who work with low-income and first-generation students
  • Be mindful of Johnnette B. Cole’s 5 F’s: family, faculty, finances, fear, and friends.
  • Include TRIO SSS students in recruitment, orientation, and other leadership activities.
  • Be prepared to answer questions which may arise regarding class, racial or ethnic issues and invite challenging conversation: American abuse abroad, the white savior complex, good intentions, geographical ignorance, colonialism, etc.
  • Check your privilege: It is easy to be outraged at the lacking prospect of educational experiences for underrepresented students, but difficult to see how we may be a part of the problem.

Referring Students

TRIO Student Support Services

TRIO SSS is located in Suite 40, Education Sciences Building. If you or students have questions about TRIO Student Support Services, please feel free to call TRIO at 612-625-0772 or email trio@umn.edu.

TRIO Affinity Group (TAG)

TAG works to provide a safe space for TRIO eligible students to come together and engage in dialogue regarding challenges, concerns, and successes related to being a first generation, underrepresented college student at a primarily white, privileged, and middle-to-upper class institution. Students have the opportunity to share their experiences in an environment that fosters understanding, validation, and personal development. Please make any student referrals to Greg Sawyer (sawy0011@umn.edu).