LIFT Program for First-Generation Students

College is different than high school. It’s more rigorous and the language is different (what is the registrar’s office and what do they do?) If your parents can’t help—if they never went to college themselves—who can help you learn this new world?

You can actually find your answers at Lilly Library. Librarians are an excellent source of knowledge at Earlham College (and everywhere!) And, luckily for you, if you’re a first-generation student, you’ve been automatically added to a program that pairs you with one of these knowledgable librarians.

What is the LIFT Program?

As a first-generation student at Earlham College, you’re a part of the LIFT Program. This program matches small groups of first-generation students with a personal research librarian during seven weeks of fall semester. By meeting for 90 minutes for one session per week with their librarian, LIFT students undertake a one-credit tutorial in information literacy.

The tutorial occurs within the context of assigned weekly readings, research and discussion based on current events, using media like The New York Times, National Public Radio, The Earlham Word, and TED Talks. To gain additional perspectives on current events, students will utilize a toolkit of library resources including Credo, Academic Search Premier, JSTOR and subject-specific databases (e.g. PsycINFO). The result is such that students will engage with trending issues while acquiring research competencies, library experience and personal connections with an Earlham administrative faculty member and a few of their classmates in a small-group setting.

In the spring, the LIFT Program partners with Earlham’s Center for Career Education to offer a course based on career discernment, designed to help students learn how to find research and apply for internship opportunities. LIFT students can get an extra funded internship or research experience through this course—that’s in addition to the Epic Advantage you already have as an Earlhamite.


The LIFT Program works with first-generation students residing in the USA and assumed to be citizens based on demographic data supplied in the Earlham admissions process. Definitions of “first-generation” vary. Like many schools, Earlham has adopted the Federal Government Department of Education TRiO Program definition of first-generation to ascertain LIFT eligibility:

  1. An individual for whom both parents did not complete a baccalaureate degree
  2. In the case of any individual who regularly resided with and received support from only one parent, an individual whose only such parent did not complete a baccalaureate degree

International students are not eligible for LIFT at the moment; they instead work with an international student adviser and participate in support initiatives managed by the Center for Global Education.

“[The Montréal LIFT immersive term], when I look back years from now, will always be the starting point into my ‘fire.’ … I know I can go out and wander a city now, I know I can make new friends, even if we don’t click exactly. Montréal is the beginning of my path to change the world and hit the ground running, and I’ve done a surprising amount of running here, alongside those new friends.”

Testimonial from Montréal Immersive Term 2017

Student Goals

As a LIFT student, you will:

  • Identify library resources and campus services to support your curricular and co-curricular lives
  • Practice and engage with ideas of ethical behavior while finding, using and sharing information
  • Read, evaluate and interpret media coverage of trending issues and current events, including those that affect first-generation college students
  • Develop community through intentional dialogue with a group of peers from similar and diverse backgrounds
  • Explore potential career and internship interests with faculty guides
  • Experience unique opportunities focused around research and learning to present findings

Paving the way

These students have been there, done that! They’re LIFT students who did outstanding things while at Earlham College—and beyond. Learn more about our proud LIFT alumni.

Fully funded off-campus term

LIFT-off with us to another country! As an incoming LIFT student, you are eligible to apply for an all-expenses-paid immersive term at the end of your first year (pending developments and guidelines regarding COVID-19). The 2023 cohort will be going to Germany and the Netherlands. In the past, LIFT cohorts went to Montréal (2017), Hawai’i (2018) and Italy (2019).