Increasing Awareness: First-generation Efforts of Georgia Southern University

Leslie Harris , Georgia Southern University / The Center / May 24, 2023

Three Georgia Southern University staff members hosting check-in table

In recent years, there has been an increased recognition of the unique challenges first-generation college students face. These students, who are the first in their families to pursue higher education, often need more guidance and support systems than their peers may have. As a result, emphasis has been placed on refining and expanding support systems to address these challenges as work to create equal opportunities for the success of all students continues. In this blog post, we will explore Georgia Southern University's (GS) initial steps to increase awareness and success of its growing first-gen population.

In addition to historically hosting the TRIO Student Support Services and Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate programs, GS has most recently designated a position in its Academic Success Center to leverage services geared toward first-generation college students. Since the inception of this position, the focus has been placed on creating a foundation by identifying and tracking the institution’s first-gen population, creating a first-gen landing webpage, and student listening sessions.

Data and Engagement

GS leveraged its technology to create efficiencies in identifying and tracking students who identify as first-gen. By using EAB navigate to identify this population of students, the institution’s outreach efforts will be more intentional. Additionally, the platform will allow the institution to gauge the students’ involvement in support services and engagement on campus.

First-gen Student Landing Page

The First-generation Landing Page was created to provide students and their supporters with a “one-stop shop” on the website. This page highlights the university’s definition of first-gen students, essential campus resources, as well as faculty and staff who are first-generation graduates. Campus and community partners are encouraged to navigate this page while working with students to assist in developing an understanding of being first-gen at Georgia Southern.

Student Focus Groups

To assist with developing and implementing future targeted support programs and resources, two randomized focus group sessions were conducted with groups of first-gen students. Overall, students shared the desire for more awareness of the first-generation population at the university and to create a sense of belonging and a supportive community.

The university is committed to creating and refining support systems to serve the almost 7,000 individuals who identify as first-generation college students of Georgia Southern University. Highlighted in this post are the foundational steps taken in pursuit of providing services that empower and support Georgia Southern’s first-gen population. As the summer begins, planning is underway to bring more awareness of, and create a sense of community for, the university’s first-gen student population.

For more information on Georgia Southern University's approach, please visit their website here.