Earning and Learning: Exploring the Meaning of Work in the Experiences of First-Generation Latino College Students

Nuñez, Anne-Marie; Sansone, Vanessa A.
Publication Year:
Review of Higher Education

This qualitative study examines how working influences students' college experiences, extending the predominantly quantitative research in this area. Findings based on interviews with Latino first-generation students who work reveal three themes. First, these students bring a familial orientation that motivates them to increase occupational status. Second, students perceive that working helps them develop a sense of belonging on campus and important academic and social skills. Third, students describe work as intrinsically satisfying and purposeful. Thus, work offers these students benefits beyond financial capital, including human, cultural, and social capital. Implications include the importance of structuring meaningful work opportunities in to maximize these benefits in college.

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