First-generation students have every ability to conquer college, but it can be hard when they don't always seem to share the same advantages of some of their college peers. These leg-ups are what some refer to as access to a 'hidden curriculum'—things like possessing high-level study skills and institutional proficiency—and are often unlocked for students who've had parents or siblings previously attend college. Compound that with the fact that many first-gen students are working an average of 20 hours a week (or more) to help finance their education, and it's easy to see how thriving at college doesn't necessarily come as naturally for them as we might wish. But as it turns out, there are some super simple ways we can help students to succeed and all it takes is a little time.
Overwhelmed by course loads, grades, college culture, and more, first-gen students often aren't sure what to expect once they've set foot on campus. As educators, helping our first-gen TXGU'ers understand how to prepare for the college culture shock now can help them acclimate immensely once they've made it to campus. Even something as straightforward as having a mentor they can go to for help and advice can make all the difference for them. Whether it's putting together a college-prep primer or just checking in on their wellbeing, having someone they can connect with has seemed to make the most profound impact on the overall achievements of first-gen students. Even if it's just a social media shoutout, making sure our first-gen students are supported in school might just be the smartest way we can help them succeed.