About 56 percent of undergraduates nationally are first-generation college students, according to the most up-to-date numbers from from the U.S. Dept. of Education. Instructors should be aware of first-generation students and the challenges they face, which include but are not limited to lower levels of family financial support, a greater need for financial aid resources, and a lower use of on-campus support networks such as advising or academic support.
To address these challenges, institutions should make sure that resources and support are visible to first-generation students and reduce barriers to access, writes Timothy R. Bussey, PhD, Assistant Director for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Kenyon College, in a recent Faculty Focus article. They can also provide more training opportunities for faculty and staff, possibly through a center for teaching and learning.