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First-generation at Carleton College: Where We Are, Where We’re Going

Sindy L. Fleming, Ed.D.; Trey Williams, M.A.; & Hanah Diebold, M.S., Carleton College / The Center / August 26, 2020


Carleton College has a rich history of supporting students from underrepresented communities: made possible, in part, by our consistent and intentional commitment to ensuring first-generation (FG) students are a target for recruitment. In addition to our institutional commitment, Carleton has been a proud host of the TRIO/Student Support Services program since 1981. We sponsor a variety of initiatives aimed at increasing awareness and support for first-generation students, including an annual First-gen Faculty Panel, where faculty members share how their first-generation background has shaped their professional careers and the establishment of the First-gen Faculty/Staff Directory, where students can connect with members of the community who identify as FG. We continue to assess opportunities for our FG community as we connect with FG alumni and support their professional aspirations.

While Carleton demonstrates a dedication to first-generation students, we also recognize there are additional ways to engage and support this population of students. Carleton prides itself on its ability to collaborate with and learn from others. This commitment to students and a desire to continue learning led us to the First-gen Forward and First Scholars programs. Carleton recognized the benefits of the First Scholars program and believed this program could help us in intentionally looking deeper into the first-generation experience on campus.

Having the support of a regional community of peer institutions will provide us with opportunities to share experiences and discuss evidence-based practices that we can apply on our campus.

This program shares evidence-based practices and resources while creating opportunities to share knowledge with communities across the country to advance the success of all first-generation students. The work ahead requires campus-wide participation and buy-in as well as a continued commitment to the work. Carleton recognizes the value of shared knowledge and we are excited for the opportunity to learn from and alongside our peers.

Being a First-gen Forward institution is an opportunity for Carleton to be part of a process that focuses on engaging with tools and data to increase our understanding of our first-generation students and general trends in higher education. Having the support of a regional community of peer institutions will provide us with opportunities to share experiences and discuss evidence-based practices that we can apply on our campus.


By using various analytic tools and processes, we will:
  • identify gaps and opportunities for creating a more inclusive environment;

  • identify our community’s needs and determine how to address them;

  • increase awareness of what being a first-generation student means;

  • identify a framework for faculty and staff to use in their daily work; and

  • engage with purpose to intentionally strengthen our community.

With hard work, evidenced-based practices, intentionality, and analytic tools, we will provide students with the support they need.


For more information on Carleton College's approach, please visit their website here.