TRIO Program: A Key Ingredient in the Recipe for Success

Have you ever tried a new recipe but neglected to add a key ingredient? If so, it probably didn’t turn out so well or at least not as you expected. If I were to boil down all the things that go into creating a recipe for success in college, I would say the key ingredient is taking advantage of the resources available to you.

A resource is defined as “a source of supply, support, or aid, especially one that can be readily drawn upon when needed.” Colleges offer an impressive array of resources designed to help you make the most of your educational experience and reach your potential. Resources might include academic support like tutoring and writing help as well as financial support like FAFSA and scholarship assistance. Career Centers can help you understand your strengths and career possibilities and later help you navigate the job search process. You will also be hard pressed to find better health and wellness resources like the counseling, medical care, and recreational opportunities accessible on college campuses.

Federal TRIO programs offer additional resources to students who are the first in their family to attend college and who demonstrate financial need. While services and activities vary from place to place, TRIO programs have a mission resembling that of Luther’s TRIO Achievement Program: “to provide participating students with holistic, individualized support and comprehensive programming that promotes their academic success, personal development, and sense of community.”

If you are receiving a Federal Pell Grant, keep reading! Resources available to students participating in TRIO programs across the nation typically include:


Every TRIO student is connected to someone who serves as a mentor, guide, coach, and cheerleader. The student-advisor relationship creates a comfortable environment in which students may openly discuss the possibilities for their future, while celebrating successes and mitigating challenges along the way.


TRIO offers instruction to help students transition smoothly to and through college. Commonly delivered through a full semester course, the teachings lay the foundation for students’ learning and development and foster the academic skills, habits, and mindset necessary for them to thrive.

Peer Tutoring

TRIO supplies or connects students to campus tutoring resources every semester. Some students are hesitant to request a tutor because they feel weak, dumb, or dependent. If only everyone understood it is the smartest students who take advantage of tutoring! Tutoring connections promote effective study strategies, accountability, deeper learning, and peer mentorship.

Graduate School Assistance

TRIO supports participants continuing onto graduate or professional school in several ways. Examples include assistance with entrance exam preparation, help securing internships and collaborative research opportunities, and sponsored attendance at TRIO graduate school preparation conferences.

Financial Fitness

TRIO students benefit from a wealth of resources which contribute to their immediate and long-term financial health. They learn about budgeting, building credit, repaying loans, saving and investing, as well as how to secure funding for undergraduate and graduate study while minimizing debt. Many programs also contribute directly to the students’ bottom line by awarding grants and scholarships designated for TRIO participants.

Lending Programs

TRIO programs attempt to save students money by supplying educational resources that they can borrow. Examples of items available for check out include laptops, iPads, and calculators. Textbook lending libraries have also become popular, with the book inventory supplied through student donations.


Food, fun, and fellowship are a guarantee with TRIO programs! While the TRIO office and classroom provide settings for participants to interact, TRIO staff also plan multiple opportunities throughout the year for students to build community through meaningful connections with faculty, staff, and one another.

Savvy students are aware of college resources and utilize them to set and reach their goals. If you are a first generation college student, consider joining the 200,000+ college students across the country benefitting from resources through TRIO. Ask the colleges you are considering if they have a TRIO program and how you can get involved.

{ Return to Inside College Admissions for more posts. }

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