Your students need support systems

At teaching-intensive schools, many students don’t have the confidence to seek out what they need.  The sense of entitlement that comes with knowing your way around a higher education institution before you attend one?  That comes from knowing you’re destined to attend college–maybe your parents did, your older siblings. You’ve been brought up knowing what college would be like, and knowing how to get what you need. You have health insurance, you know what a dean is, and you make use of your instructors’ office hours.

Most of the students at a teaching-intensive college or university don’t arrive with that sense of entitlement, however.  They may be afraid to ask questions, afraid to claim things to which they’re entitled.  Your job as a faculty member is to pay attention to the students who aren’t asking questions, aren’t attending office hours, aren’t following up with you after a bad grade.  Pull them aside and have a conversation.  Help them to discover the campus resources at their disposal.  And, if need be, help to create the support structures they need to keep them on track.

This article from a first-generation student details the structures that keep her at Georgetown.  We can’t all afford to create these structures at our institutions.  But we can all do better.


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