First in my Family: A Profile of First Generation Students at Four-Year Institutions Since 1971

Saenz, Victor B.; Hurtado, Sylvia; Barrera, Doug; Wolf, De'Sha; Yeung, Fanny
Publication Year:

As part of the 40th Anniversary of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA—in partnership with the Foundation for Independent Higher Education—proudly offers this important new report on the first-generation college student. This report explores 35 years of trends on first-generation college students and their peers with college-educated parents, utilizing survey data collected through the Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s (CIRP) Freshman Survey from 1971 to 2005. The trends results yield important insights on first-generation college students. In particular, examining survey trends over time for this critical population of entering college students both confirms previous research and also reveals previously unknown or unanticipated pre-college behaviors, collegegoing motivations, and career-oriented values and objectives. The report begins with a review of existing research on first-generation college students, followed by an overview of the changing demographic profile of first-generation students within the CIRP Freshman Survey trends sample, including a special focus on gender, racial/ethnic, and institutional differences. The key contribution of this report is in its review of CIRP trends on such issues as the importance of parental encouragement, students’ reasons and motivations for going to college, students’ financial concerns and considerations while in college, the influence of home in the college choice process, students’ pre-college academic preparation, as well as students’ goals and values at college entry.

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