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Unveiling the Hidden Curriculum in Higher Education: Insights From Friday 5 Live!

Executive Summary

A recent Friday Five Live podcast episode highlighted the often-overlooked aspect of college life known as the "hidden curriculum." Joined by La'Tonya "LT" Rease Miles, Director of University Partnerships at ReUP Education and a passionate advocate for first-generation college students, the discussion examined the nuances of this hidden curriculum, its impact on students, and strategies for educators to help demystify the college experience for all.

Understanding The Hidden Curriculum

The hidden curriculum refers to the unwritten, unofficial, and often unintended lessons, values, and perspectives students learn in college. Unlike the formal curriculum outlined in course syllabi and academic requirements, the hidden curriculum encompasses the social and cultural nuances of navigating higher education. From understanding academic jargon to decoding the unspoken rules of college life, the hidden curriculum can pose significant challenges, particularly for first-generation college students, international students, and those from diverse backgrounds.

The Impact On Student Success

The conversation highlighted how the hidden curriculum can exacerbate feelings of imposter syndrome, alienation, and confusion among students. With the necessary tools and guidance to decode these unwritten rules, students may be able to fully engage with their academic and social environments, hindering their overall college experience and success.

Strategies For Educators

In the podcast, Meg and LT discussed several strategies for educators to help students navigate the hidden curriculum:
Explicit Teaching: Incorporating discussions about the hidden curriculum into classroom settings can help demystify the college experience. This involves transparency about academic expectations, college norms, and the purpose behind various institutional practices.
Leveraging Student Experiences: Encouraging students to share their experiences and strategies for overcoming challenges related to the hidden curriculum can foster a supportive community where students learn from each other.
Utilizing Technology & Social Media: Institutions can use their online platforms to offer resources and explanations about aspects of the hidden curriculum, such as academic terminology, campus resources, and how to engage with faculty and staff effectively.
Engaging The Student Ecosystem: Recognizing that students do not navigate college in isolation, it's crucial to involve their support systems, including families and chosen communities, in the conversation about the hidden curriculum.
Highlighting Student Voices: Sharing stories and advice from students who have successfully navigated the hidden curriculum can provide relatable insights and encouragement for incoming and current students.


The Friday 5 Live podcast discussion sheds light on the critical yet often overlooked aspect of the hidden curriculum in higher education. By acknowledging its existence and implementing strategies to address it, educators can play a pivotal role in leveling the playing field for all students, ensuring a more inclusive and equitable college experience. As the conversation concluded, it's clear that understanding and addressing the hidden curriculum is not just about academic success; it's about fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment among all students, paving the way for their holistic development and success beyond the classroom.


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For nearly 20 years, Innovative Educators has assisted college leaders to build foundations of success for their students. Institutions have seen student engagement and retention increase as a result of utilizing Go2Orientation, OnlineLingo and StudentLingo to onboard new students. Grounded in best practices for online learning, Innovative Educators student support tools are engaging, interactive, and community-building. Go2Orientation, OnlineLingo and StudentLingo together create a powerful online resource center providing support to students throughout their academic journey.

By Meg Foster, Online Learning & Design Specialist - Consultant & Wendy Archer,  Web Content Coordinator 
March 14, 2024



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