Faculty Resources

Faculty are encouraged to:

  • create connections and build community by self-identifying as a first-generation graduate to their students during the first day of classes and to colleagues
  • invite students to learn more about their personal experiences
  • familiarize themselves with campus support services and make referrals
  • avoid jargon and acronyms – valuable as shortcuts, limited if shortcuts are unknown
  • dispel the myth that students only need assistance from the Academic Resource Center only when in academic trouble
  • use stories and scenarios to help students connect to policies and procedures
  • avoid vague, subtle, obscure phrases especially in syllabi and on policies/procedures
  • encourage students to get involved with high impact programs: a student organization, undergraduate research, academic internships, global experiences, and campus employment
  • serve as allies and supporters even if they are not first-generation themselves


Jargon is used across the higher education landscape and can often serve as a barrier for first-generation students. We use terms like subsidized, Ombuds, seminar, Bursar, dismissal, proficiency, and many others that act as shortcuts for those who know, but barriers for those who do not.

7 Tips for Addressing Jargon

First Generation Research for Faculty

  • Are College Faculty and First-Generation Low-Income Students Ready for Each Other? Schademan, A. R. & Thompson, M. R. (2016). Journal of College Student Retention, Research, Theory & Practice, 18(2), pp. 194-216.
  • Building educational resilience and social support: The effects of the educational opportunity fund program among first- and second-generation college students. Clauss-Ehlers, C. S., & Wibrowski, C. R. (2007). Journal of College Student Development, 48(5), pp. 574-584. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/221312
  • "Is that paper really due today?": Differences in first-generation and traditional college students' understandings of faculty expectations. Collier, P. J., & Morgan, D. L. (2008). Higher Education, 55(4), pp. 425-446. doi: 10.1007/s10734-007-9065-5
  • Supporting first generation college freshmen with small group intervention. Folger, W. A., Carter, J. A., & Chase, P. B. (2004). College Student Journal, Vol 38(3), 472-475.
  • The influence of multicultural learning communities on the intrapersonal development of first-generation college students. Jehangir, R., Williams, R., & Jeske, J. (2012). Journal of College Student Development, 53(2), pp. 267-284. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/469345
  • "Where People Like Me Don’t Belong”: Faculty Members from Low-socioeconomic-status Backgrounds. Lee, E. M. (2017). Sociology of Education, 90(3), pp. 197-212.