Thoughtful support makes all the difference for first-generation students
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Duke University

Thoughtful support makes all the difference for first-generation students

The Duke Libraries have long been a popular place for students on financial aid to fulfill their work-study requirements — around 250 students currently work there.

I truly believe that first-generation students bring important perspectives to higher education, and that libraries can play a unique role in facilitating their acclimation to college.

--Megan Boland, Duke Libraries’ new student success intern. 

Realizing that first-generation (1G) students make up almost 10% of the undergraduate population, Duke Libraries held a series of focus groups with 1Gs to find out their unique needs. The goal was to better understand and serve an important and growing part of the undergraduate population at Duke. The Libraries acted immediately on its findings, implementing the following programs over the past year: 

  • Textbooks are expensive and a source of financial stress for many 1G students. Every semester, the Libraries buy textbooks and course materials for the 100 largest classes at Duke. All of these can now be checked out for free. 

  • Some 1G students were unsure of how to get started in a large academic library, so programs about how to use the library were added to 1G orientation. 

  • For additional support, the Libraries hired a student success intern to work closely with 1G and international student populations. 

  • The Libraries now actively recruit 1G students to serve on their student advisory board.