From Here to There: Using Required Courses to Expand First-Generation Mentorship Accessibility

Opsal et al. / Teaching Sociology / May 30, 2023

Faculty Student Mentor

One challenge sociology departments face is conveying to undergraduates the relevance of a sociology degree for future careers. This challenge is more notable for first-generation and working-class students who research shows have more limited access to mentors. Her, the authors present a department-level mentoring initiative designed to address systemic gaps first-generation students face in accessing mentorship, especially in relationship to career readiness. The mentoring module we examine here is the first of four delivered across our curriculum and focuses on introducing what sociologists do in “the real world,” advancing the idea of career transferability, and providing information on university resources helpful to developing student personal and professional identities. The authors discuss the context, implementation, and analysis of student reflections and conclude with lessons learned and strategies departments can draw on to improve mentoring of first-generation sociology students.