Writing Center Journal


First-generation students (FGS) make up a significant percentage of college populations. However, they experience hardships that are less common for their continuing-generation peers. They struggle to understand the “rules” of college and lack the cultural capital that can help students succeed through generations of knowledge about how to navigate college. Writing centers attempt to lessen these burdens by providing outreach to marginalized student populations, including FGS. However, there has been a lack of cross-institutional research that examines exactly how writing centers support FGS. This article presents a mixed-methods study that begins to close that knowledge gap and demonstrate common patterns of FGS support across institution types in the United States. Results show that most FGS support is “accidental” and highly context-specific, which makes measuring success difficult. The results of this study also show that tutor staffing and training play a significant role in FGS support and should be further researched in writing center studies. The author argues that we need to do more assessment of our outreach and its outcomes for FGS, going beyond our narratives of what does or does not work for marginalized students.