"You're Doing Great. Keep Doing What You're Doing": Socially Supportive Communication during First-Generation College Students' Socialization

Gist-Mackey, Angela N.; Wiley, Marissa L.; Erba, Joseph
Publication Year:
Communication Education

The experiences of first-generation college students (FGCS) are marked by high levels of stress and uncertainty as they navigate the transition to college. This study uses the organizational assimilation model to explore FGCS' transition to college by temporally analyzing multiple sources and types of socially supportive communication found in interviews with 28 FGCS in their first semester at a four-year university. Findings suggest that during anticipatory socialization, FGCS primarily engaged in informational and instrumental social support interactions; in the encounter phase of socialization, FGCS (while still engaging in informational and instrumental support interactions) also engaged in appraisal and emotional support interactions. Findings also illuminate the ways in which FGCS embodied the role of pioneers, even early in the socialization process, suggesting important implications for their role not only as receivers of social support, but as agents of social support.

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