More about support for first-gen students

Here’s a Huffington Post article about a couple of programs putting supports in place for students who are the first in their family to attend college.  If you teach at a teaching-intensive college or university, especially a regional comprehensive public institution or a community college, you will teach a ton of such students. I was one.

They don’t know the ropes and may be afraid to ask questions; they don’t necessarily feel entitled to use the resources the institution makes available.  Faculty members can make a huge difference for students who might otherwise slip through the cracks.  Learn what can help them get on track and stay on track.

This isn’t support you can get from home. It’s not that they don’t support you, but they haven’t been there and don’t have the know-how to tell you what you should do or shouldn’t do.


A first-gen student perspective

Although this blog post is from a Latino student at an elite liberal arts college, the reflections in it will resonate for  all those who teach first-gen students, n every kind of higher-ed institution.


[My parents] simply lack the academic experience necessary to engage with me about my academic life. I have to make an active effort to find the best way to navigate and exist within my home life and school life, while most students’ parents at Carleton College are behind their education every step of the way. 

Leading for Change Diversity Consortium

Representatives of more than twenty campuses across Massachusetts will gather at Bridgewater State University on March 30 for the Leading for Change Diversity Consortium meeting.  The consortium enables members to share best practices in educating our diverse student population and to track success on a number of diffferent metrics, including retention and graduation rates, composition of campus workforce, and campus climate.  The Consortium believes in data-driven work and shares ways of benchmarking and collecting the data that will enable us to reach students from all populations in the most effective ways.

The consortium hopes to join the Cross-Sector Partnership for mentoring and for education in culturaly inclusive pedagogy, aimed at reaching all of our students in the Commonwealth.

Check out the Consortium’s activities and think about the ways you could get involved in learning best practices in diversity work on your campus or through the Consortium.


The Leading for Change Higher Education Diversity Consortium is a voluntary collaboration of institutions of higher education in Massachusetts and the greater New England region committed to identifying student and employee diversity best practices through uniform and transparent use of data, institutional benchmarks, and reflective practice.

The difference you can make to a first-generation college student

This essay from Inside Higher Ed reminds us of how alienating it can be for students who don’t know the ropes when it comes to college. Whether you are an adjunct, a TA, a staffer, or a full-time faculty member, you’re likely to encounter a clueless first-year student or potential student.

Never assume that students understand the conventions of higher ed or of your particular institution. And remember that for a student who isn’t quite sure about whether this is all going to work, one person can turn everything around. That person can be you.

After two days of wandering Iowa City in the bitter cold, I had done everything constructive I could think of. I had met with advisers in the English department, as well as a university admissions officer. I had wandered through bookstores without buying anything for slightly longer than was polite, and walked around the city bundled up against the cold for as long as I could stand. I was such a rube, in fact, that I didn’t even realize that, simply to stay warm, I could have hung out in the university library’s periodicals room for hours. I didn’t know such places existed, and that you could just walk right into them.

Who is likely to be “brilliant”?

A recent paper in SCIENCE suggests that women and African Americans are underrepresented in some fields because of a belief that “innate talent” rather than hard work determines success in those fields (and a corresponding belief that women of all races as well as African American men are less likely to manifest this “innate talent”).

This is important information for us to consider in encouraging undergraduates to consider STEM fields and other areas.

Here’s a link to the article, Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines

And here’s a summary, from the Jan. 17 Economist