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What I Wish My Professor Knew

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In Fall 2014, a group of students from Stanford's student-run First-Generation and/or Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) created a program called "What I Wish My Professor Knew" to help faculty understand how their classroom practices and statements could contribute to First-Generation and/or Low-Income (FLI) students feeling alienated or welcomed at Stanford. 

This video provides a brief introduction to some of the relevant issues for FLI students at Stanford.

*** In Spring 2020, FLIP facilitated a session gathering information on FLI student needs during the pandemic. See details of their findings below ***

What I Wish My Professor Knew

What I Wish My Professor Knew - Spring 2020

FLI students are a significant part of the student body and some of the most vulnerable students at Stanford. Often dealing with barriers to success in the best of times, FLI students are heavily impacted by COVID-19.

Over March 10–April 11, FLIP collected 161 student responses on the challenges FLI students face and their needs during the pandemic. We assembled these responses into the following presentation to help professors understand FLI student needs from student’s own voices, and what they can do to help them succeed. 


  • 4/5 FLI students face circumstances that make academic success difficult.

  • 3/5 FLI students are concerned about access to resources.

  • 1/2 FLI students are worried about stable housing and/or food.

Responses had four key themes

  • Students lack access to resources for academic success.

  • Students are faced with issues bigger than academics, such as financial, housing, and food insecurity.

  • Students have added mental stress and anxiety over family health and financial survival.

  • Students have a difficult time reaching out to faculty to discuss their problems.

Highlights from the Q&A

Q:  How can professors make classes more accessible in ways useful to students?

A: Freely available course materials, recorded lectures, uploaded slides, and  flexibility with student needs is key. Because of the challenges FLI students are facing, they may be unable to attend lectures or afford course materials.

A: Recognizing the struggles posed by the pandemic, professors should focus on the most important aspects of courses for learning and enjoying the material. This may mean less testing or a more open-ended curriculum.

Q:  What resources are available for FLI students through Stanford during the pandemic?

A:  FLI students received a $2,000 stipend to help cover groceries and basic expenses. The Financial Aid Office is working with students who need assistance for housing. The Learning Hub and Financial Aid are working to provide students with internet or equipment.

A:  Although some resources are available, many students who need them may not yet have or know  about them. FLIP has a FLI-Guide to COVID-19 with a list of resources instructors can direct students to, either directly in their syllabus, or by copying specific resources and citing FLIP for the full document.

Q:  How can professors help make students feel comfortable discussing their needs? 

A:  Professors should explicitly state they should be comfortable discussing their concerns, either directly, with TAs, or even through FLIP if that’s how they’re most comfortable. Student feedback should always be welcome and discussion open.

View the Video Presentation

Video of the Spring 2020 What I Wish My Professor Knew event

Read the full summary

For full details of the Spring 2020 event, in which FLIP collected 161 student responses on the challenges FLI students face and their needs during the pandemic, see the Speaker Notes and Further Resources.