The Activities, Roles, and Relationships of Successful First-Generation College Students

Demetriou, Cynthia; Meece, Judith; Eaker-Rich, Deborah; Powell, Candice
Publication Year:
Journal of College Student Development

This qualitative study describes the experiences of 16 successful first-generation college students (FGCS) utilizing a theoretical lens, informed significantly by bioecological systems theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979), which guided our qualitative analyses of interview transcripts to examine the activities, roles, and relationships of these students as they approached the finish line of college graduation. We responded to an omission in the literature on FGCS experiences: although researchers have examined the struggles of first-generation and low-income students, few studies have focused on the experiences of successful students. We offer a developmental paradigm for appreciating undergraduate retention. Recommendations from this investigation support the development and implementation of proactive retention and degree-completion strategies from a strengths-based perspective.

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