Intro - MACEducator Vincent Tinto wrote, “No college student ever rises to low expectations.” Aspire to go beyond “just average.”

  • Use healthy strategies to cope with stress: exercise, eat well, sleep enough and enjoy the company of good friends and family.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for help with an assignment.
  • If a problem seems insurmountable, try to approach it from a different perspective.

The Mendenhall Achievement Center endeavors to provide essential support services that foster personal growth, well-being and academic success for all UST students.  Centrally located in Crooker Center, the Mendenhall Achievement Center houses a number of offices that work together to support and enhance the overall academic experience for students. The Center offers a professional support team that can assist students in achieving their goals while enrolled at UST.

The Mendenhall Achievement Center was established in 2008 as a result of a gift from Trini Mendenhall, the former owner of Fiesta Mart, Inc. and a former University Board member.

Office Of Student Success

Office Of Student SuccessThe Office for Student Success collaborates with other offices to promote and support success at the University of St. Thomas. The Office for Student Success offers students at the University of St. Thomas:

  • College success workshops
  • Direction on college success strategies
  • Guidance and advice on campus resources available for your needs
  • Keys to college success

In addition, the Office for Student Success works with the UST community in providing the Mendenhall Summer Institute, First Generation Student Support and the Freshman Symposium.

Mendenhall Summer Institute

Mendenhall Summer InstituteAs you get ready to begin your college career at the University of St. Thomas, consider starting early in our Mendenhall Summer Institute (MSI)!

MSI is a five-week program held during Summer II for incoming freshmen students. This program allows students to start their college career early by earning 6 elective credit hours, helping them integrate into the UST community, and offering an opportunity to earn a Mendenhall scholarship for their tuition at UST!

For MSI application questions contact Monica Gutierrez, MSI Coordinator, at or 713-380-1278. For program specific questions contact

*MSI 2021 is expected to be in person but we will also make arrangements for a virtual MSI program depending on COVID-19 updates. We will notify MSI applicants with additional updates. Our top priority is to keep our students, staff, and faculty safe and healthy during these challenging times.

Our mission is to help all UST first-generation college students succeed in becoming college graduates through intentional interactions and participation in the UST community. We create a support network that promotes success for all.

At the University of St. Thomas, First-Generation College students are defined as any student whose parents have not attainted their bachelor’s degree.


  • Ease the transition from high school to college.
  • Help to clarify the “college experience” for students and families.
  • Provide additional resources for financial aid education.
  • Impact graduation and retention rates for first-generation college students.
  • Create opportunities for peer discussions and interaction for social and academic growth.
  • Connect FirstGen students with UST and the Houston community FirstGen graduates.
  • Provide free or low-cost activities for FirstGen students.
  • Create an understanding of FirstGen needs at UST.

UST FirstGen Group

Open to all UST students, faculty, and staff, the UST First Gen Group meets throughout the semester to connect, ask questions, and discuss what it is like to be a First Gen student. See the UST Calendar for the exact First Gen Group meeting dates.

Stay Connected

Anyone who is interested in information related to the success of first-generation college students should email and request to be added to the UST First Generation College Student list-serve.

Nine Keys to Success for First Generation College Students

Success comes from a combination of hard work, teamwork, commitment and self-discipline. The following advice is adapted from K.J. Sufka’s 2011 book, The “A” Game: Nine Steps for Better Grades:

  1. Go to class…ALWAYS!
  2. Never sit in the cheap seats – sit in the front row where there are fewer distractions.
  3. Come to class prepared – read assignments prior to class and review your notes.
  4. When lost, ask questions – raise your hand, ask questions and visit faculty office hours.
  5. Get spaced out – avoid “all nighters” and spread out your study times.
  6. Develop learning objectives – learn different strategies for note-taking, studying material and learning styles that work for you.
  7. Learn materials at all levels – college is more than just memorizing. Learn what it means to have “critical thinking” skills.
  8. Use learning checks – get involved with study groups and use tutorial services.
  9. Be exam savvy – read all questions carefully, review your answers and avoid errors in marking your answers.

Keys To College Success (printable)


UST Resources

Nationwide Resources

Parents with their first generation studentParents who never attended college are, in a way, “students” themselves in learning about the college environment. Read the following tips which comes from K. L. Coburn and M. L. Treeger’s 2003 book, "Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years."

  • Become familiar with what many colleges call Student Affairs
    • This is the area of colleges that concentrate on student development and out-of-classroom experiences.
    • These offices provide valuable resources.
    • Your student should consider this office as a part of their “team” for success.
  • Expect the student to encounter several “identity” changes in the following areas:
    • Intellectual
    • Cultural and ethic
    • Spiritual and religious; and
    • Other individual challenges
  • Work on building the student’s confidence in both the academic and social environments on campus
  • Identify whom to go to for help as the key for eventual success in college

Stay Connected

Anyone who is interested in information related to the success of first-generation college students should email and request to be added to the UST First Generation College Student list-serve.


UST Resources

Nationwide Resources