Practical Class for Students

Inside Higher Ed recently published an article (here) that described a study examining the outcome of a one-hour group for first generation college students. In the study, students who attended a discussion/workshop where panelists discussed their own personal adjustment to college and how panelists found resources were much more likely to have higher GPA and utilize resources on campus than a control group. While this seems initially promising, there are some issues with the study. First, the study took place at a private institution. Would the results hold up at a public or larger university? Also, the workshop was optional, so students who were attending it may have been more motivated and therefore more likely to seek out resources or help where needed. We also don’t know what incentives were in place for people to attend the workshop. Finally, we don’t know what the difficulty level of the classes taken were between groups, meaning one group may have simply had simpler classes to take. Despite these issues, I think the authors are suggesting something very promising.

I think the idea of a panel is an excellent idea, but I wonder why it is a) optional, b) geared toward only first-generation and c) only during the first year. I am a firm believer in personal responsibility. That students need to seek out their own help and resources during their college years. They need to take advantage of office hours, trainings, career advice, etc. I realize, however, that students often do not have the skills necessary to seek out these services. They might not know even where to start, making a workshop or class important for students to attend. It would be great for a more “practical” class to be taught throughout college that is basically an outline of topics students are likely to encounter per year and how to seek out that aid. Student blogger laven also wrote about another potential first year seminar here. It isn’t meant to be hand-holding, just a more structured way for students of all years to know what is out there and how to get it. Ideal? Of course. Realistic? …….

Category(s): PFP14S

One Response to Practical Class for Students

  1. Hello,

    Thanks for this post. I’m a first generation college student and think that this university has the right idea in targeting those who have no tacit or familial knowledge of how to succeed in college. These students tend to be more vulnerable to dropping / failing out–more so than students with established networks of college grads. I think of this demographic as underrepresented in that they have no family representation in the system itself–no accumulated wisdom. They are also likely to come from lower socioeconomic status or other underrepresented demographics.

    For example, I didn’t know about the resources on campus, the opportunities in study abroad, the problems I might encounter in studying and taking exams, but I did know enough to ask a lot of people for help. Other first gen students might not be so inclined; so a low-risk environment where they can ask “stupid” questions is a great idea. It also gives them a network.

    But I also think that this kind of panel would be good for other students, as well. Of course, some students may have access to this information right in their own homes, if they were willing to seek it out, as you suggest. Or at least parents could serve as resources to point them in the right direction on campus.

    Lots to think about.


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