University Business - April 2012 - (Page 8)

E D I TO R ’ S N OT E Toward First-Generation Success N ew research coNfirms what maNy iN higher education have long suspected: students who are the first in their families to attend college—firstgeneration college students—are at an unseen academic disadvantage in college. the study, “Unseen Disadvantage: how american Universities’ focus on independence Undermines the academic Performance of first-Generation college students,” from the Kellogg school of management at Northwestern University (ill.) says “the seemingly positive middle- and upper-class cultural norms that pervade traditional american universities (such as ‘do your own thing,’ ‘pave your own path,’ and ‘express yourself’) can undermine the academic performance of first-generation students.” one in six students at four-year universities are first- efforts being made to reverse the situation. generation students, says lead researcher Nicole stevens, but for example, since its pilot collaboration with Vanderbilt these students may face a “cultural mismatch” when they head to University (tenn.) in 1989, the Posse foundation (possefoundation college. Universities may also inadvertently play a role in repro- .org) has been helping groups of diverse students from chalducing the very social inequalities that they hope to alleviate. for lenging backgrounds succeed in their college careers. the ormiddle-class students, college is “the ultimate symbol of indepen- ganization works with partner universities to identify groups dence” and also allows students to “distinguish themselves from of first-generation students who exhibit leadership, motivation, their parents and realize their individual teamwork, and communication qualities potential.” By contrast, students from for the purposes of forming a “posse.” Universities may be working-class backgrounds are likely to the group members then enroll together inadvertently creating the and support each other throughout their have been socialized with different “rules of the game”—rules that emphasize intime at the institution. the foundation social inequalities they terdependence with others and strong also helps partner schools build more inhope to alleviate. community ties. teractive campus environments that can the research has many implications be more welcoming for people from all for how colleges and universities can backgrounds. so far, the Posse foundachange the way they approach first-generation students. “social- tion has enrolled more than 4,200 students at 40 undergraduate psychological interventions that more systematically expand the institutions and nine graduates schools throughout the country, university culture so that they include ideas and practices of in- and has racked up a remarkable 90 percent graduation rate. terdependence may go a long way toward remedying the unseen it’s a model that should be expanded and emulated throughdisadvantage experienced by first-generation students in ameri- out the country. Let’s hear what you think. can universities today,” the authors write. the conclusions may not be news to many in higher education, who have long recognized the disadvantages that first Write to Tim Goral at generation college students often encounter. however, there are WIN BIG in Vegas this summer... GUARANTEED. See page 19. 8 | April 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - April 2012

University Business - April 2012
Editor’s Note
College Index
Ad Index
Behind the News
Financial Aid
Independent Outlook
Models of Efficiency
Guns on Campus
Campus Finance
Internet Technology
End Note

University Business - April 2012