College has long been viewed as an opportunity for advancement and mobility for talented students regardless of background. Yet for first generation students, elite universities can often seem like bastions of privilege, with unspoken academic norms and social rules. The Hidden Curriculum draws on more than one hundred in-depth interviews with students at Harvard and Georgetown to offer vital lessons about the challenges of being the first in the family to go to college, while also providing invaluable insights into the hurdles that all undergraduates face.
As Rachel Gable follows two cohorts of first generation students and their continuing generation peers, she discovers surprising similarities as well as striking differences in their college experiences. She reveals how the hidden curriculum at legacy universities often catches first generation students off guard, and poignantly describes the disorienting encounters on campus that confound them and threaten to derail their success. Gable shows how first-gens are as varied as any other demographic group, and urges universities to make the most of the diverse perspectives and insights these talented students have to offer.
The Hidden Curriculum gives essential guidance on the critical questions that university leaders need to consider as they strive to support first generation students on campus, and demonstrates how universities can balance historical legacies and elite status with practices and policies that are equitable and inclusive for all students.
Rachel Gable is director of institutional effectiveness at Virginia Commonwealth University and holds a doctorate in education from Harvard University. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.
"Gable’s suggestions are well written and thoughtfully conveyed; university administrators and others interested in higher education will find much to consider."—Jacqueline Snider, Library Journal
"Based on her findings, Gable offers policy suggestions to college administrators for effective outreach to these groups. . . . [The] author also lets the students tell their stories, including lengthy intact quotes from many of her interviews. Therefore, it’s fairly easy to follow the students' narratives in the text while leaving the 'scholarly conversation' in the footnotes for background. Many of the study’s conclusions are eye-opening.""—Kirkus Reviews
"The Hidden Curriculum transforms our understanding of what first generation students experience at legacy institutions by challenging the tendency to consider these students as a monolith. I highly recommend this book for university leaders who are committed to creating more equitable and inclusive environments in which all students can thrive."—Kourtney Cockrell, cofounder of the FGLI Consortium
"Rachel Gable's book is a joy to read. Chock full of concrete data and riveting interviews with first generation students, The Hidden Curriculum will change the way both faculties and students think about helping first-gens to succeed. Students and university leaders will be in Gable's debt."—Richard J. Light, Harvard University, author of Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds
"The Hidden Curriculum is highly engaging and readily accessible to a broad audience, from students and parents to faculty and administrators. Gable provides a nuanced interpretation of the first generation experience at elite universities, letting the students themselves describe their diverse challenges and struggles."—Suzanne Lovett, coauthor of Practice for Life: Making Decisions in College
"Compelling and insightful. Gable focuses on the varied college experiences of first generation students while never losing sight of the concerns of continuing generation students. Her work is an important contribution to the field."—Elizabeth M. Lee, author of Class and Campus Life: Managing and Experiencing Inequality at an Elite College