Navigating the pipeline: How socio-cultural influences impact first-generation doctoral students

Holley, Karri A.; Gardner, Susan
Publication Year:
Journal of Diversity in Higher Education

This paper examines the experiences of doctoral students who are the first in their families to graduate from college. First-generation college students constitute one third of doctoral degree recipients in the United States (Hoffer et al., 2002), yet little is known about their graduate school experience. Social capital and reproduction theory offer insight into the relationship between individual mobility and social structures, while the concept of intersectionality emphasizes the multiple characteristics of individual identity. Through interviews with 20 first-generation doctoral students, this article considers the role of the discipline, the institution, finances, and family in the graduate school experience. The findings emphasize how the manifold components of a student's identity beyond the educational achievements of a parent help explain the first-generation doctoral student experience. Implications and recommendations for practice are offered. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

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