New Article: Guiding First-Generation Students to Success

Posted by Inside Higher Ed on February 15, 2022

Based on their research into the needs of first-generation, low-income students, Josh Farris and Chi Chan share five best practices for meeting those needs.

Maybe I’m just not good enoughMaybe college isn’t for me.”

The familiar cry from students unable to meet the changing demands of higher education continues to grow louder. Conversations on how administrators, support staff and alumni can support first-generation and/or low-income (FGLI) students are becoming much more common on college campuses. COVID-19 has elevated dialogues about access and equity up the ladder of college and university priorities and turned our attention more toward these issues.

But are the people engaged in those dialogues truly paying attention to the needs of the FGLI population? Will current college and university efforts carve a pathway in the right direction?

It’s increasingly clear that many FGLI students require additional guidance in navigating the wilderness that is their first college experience. New research by the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Education and the University of Pennsylvania shows that FGLI students generally struggle in meeting academic standards, gaining a sense of belonging and acquiring the skills necessary for life both during and after college. And despite lip service to the contrary, as well as some honest efforts, higher education institutions in general simply aren’t adequately sensitive to FGLI students’ needs or doing enough to retain them and help them succeed. Data from the Pell Institute reveal that only 11 percent of students who identify as both first-generation and low-income graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years of matriculation.

So what can be done? How can we ensure our approaches truly support FGLI students?

Read more.

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