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The Invisibility Factor

Administrators and Faculty Reach Out to First-Generation College Students

by Teresa Heinz Housel and Vickie L. Harvey (editors)

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Publisher: BrownWalker Press
Pub date: 2010
Pages: 157
ISBN-10: 1599425238
ISBN-13: 9781599425238
Categories: CommunicationSocial ScienceEducation


This collective volume fills an important gap in first-generation college student research by simultaneously achieving several important goals. Collectively, the essays represent a balance of personal narrative, qualitative, and quantitative approaches that extend our understanding of the first-generation college student (FGS) experience. The essays review the existing literature on FGS; outline the barriers to college success faced by FGS; update the existing literature by introducing new and cutting-edge first-generation research; and recommend solutions to those in the trenches, who include support staff who design programs to support FGS.

The book's contributing authors bring important personal and scholarly expertise to the project. The authors include faculty, administrators, support services personnel, and former students at private liberal arts colleges, major research universities, community colleges, and comprehensive universities in urban and rural settings. The diverse perspectives represented in the essays will benefit administrators and staff working at diverse types of institutions with FGS. In addition, many of the authors were first-generation college students. Socio-economic background profoundly shapes a person's cultural transition into college and heavily determines what barriers to academic success he or she will face. This collection's authors have a keen understanding of the FGS experience having made the transition into a foreign academic culture themselves.

The book's essays address the following topics of concern of staff who interact with FGS:
- Understanding classism in the academy and class segregation on campus
-Race, ethnicity, class, and immigration as they impact FGS' campus experiences
-Insight for developing successful first-generation support service programs
-FGS' emotional, academic, and cultural adjustment to campus life
-The role of support groups in shaping the first-semester FGS college experience
-The importance of mentoring in aiding FGS' cultural transition to college
- The impact of a FGS' living situation (such as in a campus living-learning center) on academic and cultural transition

About the Author

Teresa Heinz Housel is an assistant professor of Communication at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. While a first-generation college student at Oberlin College in the early 1990s, she became interested in how the academic environment culturally marginalizes many first-generation students. Her research in the areas of homelessness, the politics of housing, media and globalization, and language, power, and class have appeared in Critical Studies in Media Communication, Information, Communication & Society, and Journal of Critical Inquiry.

Vickie Harvey is an associate professor in the Communication Studies Department at the California State University, Stanislaus. She conducts research and teaches courses that emphasize the importance of communicating in relationships. Her primary line of research focuses on cross-sex friendships and how platonic friends meet O'Meara's four challenges of remaining just friends. Her research has been published in Sex Roles, Communication Teacher, Iowa Journal of Communication, The Qualitative Report, International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education, and Readings in Gender Communication.