Research on First Generation Students

On this page, you will find links to the research on first generation students and graduates that informs the work we do everyday. We approach first generation student success from three perspectives: academic success, personal success, and professional success.

Accordingly, we’ve divvied up the research papers we’ve compiled into those three categories. You will find that some of the research entries are duplicated or even triplicated because we think they provide relevant insights across multiple categories.

The research we’ve compiled on this page has been published in books, in journals, and on websites by passionate and interested researchers. In some cases, the publisher has made the research freely available. In others, the publisher has paywalled it. Wherever possible, we’ve attempted to link to an open source version of the research. In cases where the research is not available open source, you may need to reach out to your school’s library or to the authors themselves to get a copy of the paper. For an email template to use in the latter case, click here.

Bibliography

Academic Success

Title:
"Is That Paper Really Due Today?": Differences in First-Generation and Traditional College Students' Understandings of Faculty Expectations
Author(s):
Collier, Peter J.; Morgan, David L.
Publication Year:
2008
Abstract:
Success in college is not simply a matter of students demonstrating academic ability. In addition, students must master the "college student" role in order to understand instructors' expectations and apply their academic skills effectively to those expectations. This article uses data from focus groups to examine the fit between university faculty members' expectations and students' understanding of those expectations. Parallel discussions among groups of faculty and groups of students highlight important differences regarding issues of time management and specific aspects of coursework. We find definite incongruities between faculty and student perspectives and identify differences between traditional and first-generation college students. We argue that variations in cultural capital, based on parents' educational experiences, correspond to important differences in each group's mastery of the student role and, thus, their ability to respond to faculty expectations. The conclusion discusses the theoretical and practical implications of considering role mastery a form of cultural capital.
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Title:
(No) Harm in Asking: Class, Acquired Cultural Capital, and Academic Engagement at an Elite University
Author(s):
Jack, Anthony Abraham
Publication Year:
2016-01-01
Abstract:
How do undergraduates engage authority figures in college? Existing explanations predict class-based engagement strategies. Using in-depth interviews with 89 undergraduates at an elite university, I show how undergraduates with disparate precollege experiences differ in their orientations toward and strategies for engaging authority figures in college. Middle-class undergraduates report being at ease in interacting with authority figures and are proactive in doing so. Lower-income undergraduates, however, are split. The privileged poor—lower-income undergraduates who attended boarding, day, and preparatory high schools—enter college primed to engage professors and are proactive in doing so. By contrast, the doubly disadvantaged—lower-income undergraduates who remained tied to their home communities and attended local, typically distressed high schools—are more resistant to engaging authority figures in college and tend to withdraw from them. Through documenting the heterogeneity among lower-income undergraduates, I show how static understandings of individuals’ cultural endowments derived solely from family background homogenize the experiences of lower-income undergraduates. In so doing, I shed new light on the cultural underpinnings of education processes in higher education and extend previous analyses of how informal university practices exacerbate class differences among undergraduates.
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Title:
33 simple strategies for faculty: a week-by-week resource for teaching first-year and first-generation students
Author(s):
Nunn, Lisa M.
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
33 Simple Strategies is designed to offer university faculty simple and straightforward ways they can interact with students both during class time and during office hours that will help mediate some of first-year students' most stressful challenges. The suggested strategies require just 5-15 minutes a week. Every suggestion is rooted in first-year students' own voices, gathered during research at one four-year private and one four-year public institution. The strategies pay particular attention to the additional needs and challenges that low-income, ethno-racial minority, and first-generation college students face in the transition to university academics and college life more generally. Including strategies like Introduce yourself as a person to your students rather than list your professional qualifications, Have students fill out a time log over the course of a week so that you can talk about time management, Help students find study partners among their classmates, All the suggestions came directly from students themselves in one-on-one interviews, where the students described their experiences with professors in and out of the classroom, and articulated things that professors do that they found helpful to their learning, their confidence, and their success, and vice versa as well. For any professor just starting out, or for someone who wants to incorporate techniques to reach first year or first generation students, these short, simple suggestions will prove easy to implement, and will increase student success in any class.
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Title:
A Longitudinal Approach to Assessing Attrition Behavior Among First-Generation Students: Time-Varying Effects of Pre-College Characteristics
Author(s):
Ishitani, Terry T.
Publication Year:
2003
Abstract:
Although going to college may be viewed as a rite of passage for many students, some groups of students often face unique challenges in their pursuit of a college degree. One group of students that we are trying to gain a better understanding of is “first-generation” students, those whose parents did not graduate from college. This article presents the results of a study that investigated longitudinal effects of being a first-generation student on attrition. Results indicated that first-generation students were more likely to depart than their counterparts over time. After controlling for factors such as race, gender, high school grade point average (GPA), and family income, the risk of attrition in the first year among first-generation students was 71% higher than that of students with two college-educated parents.
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Title:
A Meta-Synthesis of Academic and Social Characteristic Studies: First-Generation College Students in STEM Disciplines at HBCUs
Author(s):
Hicks, Terence; Wood, J. Luke
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
Purpose: Given that a relatively large percentage of college students entering historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are first-generation students and considering the low completion rate among this group in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discipline, the purpose of this preliminary meta-synthesis study is intended to facilitate a greater understanding of the academic and social adjustment among college students, particularly first-generation college students enrolled in STEM disciplines at HBCUs. Therefore, this meta-synthesis will shed light and offer important recommendations for university administrators and faculty members in supporting the academic and social adjustment of these students in STEM fields at HBCUs. Design/methodology/approach: This review of literature was conducted using a meta-synthesis approach (also referred to as integrative review). A meta-synthesis is based on a process by which findings across multiple studies are organized and presented (Turner, Gonzalez and Wood, 2008; Wood, 2010). This approach is used to provide insight to academicians and practitioners alike on the status of research on a given phenomenon (Bland, Meurer and Maldonado, 1995; Patterson, Thorne, Canam and Jillings, 2001; Wood, 2010). We engaged in a cyclical process of collecting, annotating, and synthesizing research over a 45-year time-frame (1970 to 2015). This produced over 50 cited resources with more than 100 scholars including peer-reviewed articles, reports, books, book chapters, and conference papers. Findings: Factors present in the literature that affected students enrolled in a STEM program at a HBCU are grouped into three contexts: (a) first-generation academic and social characteristics, (b) first-generation college dropout and transition, and (c) first-generation STEM retention. Tables 2 to 4 provide these contexts by author and year of publication. Within these general groupings, four interrelated themes emerged from the literature: (a) prior academic performance and STEM discipline, (b) college adjustment and STEM discipline, (c) social integration and STEM discipline, and (d) academic integration and STEM discipline. Originality/value: This information may help professors and university professionals in the STEM fields to be more aware of the challenges faced by incoming college students. More empirical work is needed in this area in a way that is useful for understanding and enhancing professors' and university professionals' knowledge. To this end, research that carefully describes what HBCU professors and university professionals know or their ideas about teaching college students, especially first-generation students enrolled in the STEM discipline, is needed.
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Title:
Academic Performance of First-Generation College Students with Disabilities
Author(s):
Lombardi, Allison R.; Murray, Christopher; Gerdes, Hilary
Publication Year:
Abstract:
Students with disabilities are attending postsecondary school in increasing numbers (Newman, Wagner, Cameto, & Knokey, 2009). Recent estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 10 college students have some type of apparent (e.g., mobility impairments) or nonapparent (e.g., learning disability) disability. College students with disabilities have lower retention rates, take longer to complete degrees, and have lower degree completion rates than do their peers without disabilities (Horn, Berktold, & Bobbit, 1999; Murray, Goldstein, Nourse, & Edgar, 2000; Wessel, Jones, Markle, & Westfall, 2009). Thus, students with disabilities face a number of significant challenges adjusting to postsecondary school and have unique transition needs (Brinckerhoff, 1996; Sitlington, 2003). In addition to serving a greater number of students with disabilities, many colleges and universities are also experiencing an influx of "first-generation" college students (X. Chen, 2005). Many first-generation students are less academically prepared than are continuing-generation students when entering postsecondary educational environments (Reid & Moore, 2008; Strayhorn, 2006; Watt, Johnston, Huerta, Mediola, & Alkan, 2008). Once admitted, first-generation college students have lower college persistence and attainment rates than do their continuing-generation peers, and these effects hold even after controlling for socioeconomic status (SES), institution type, and attendance status (Choy, 2001; Lohfink & Paulsen, 2005; Nunez & Cuccaro-Alamin, 1998). Moreover, first-generation college students often face unique familial, cultural, and social transitions that may make the transition to, and completion of, postsecondary school challenging (Ishitani, 2003; Strayhorn, 2006). The current investigation was undertaken in light of growing evidence that disability status and first-generation status are factors that place a student at risk of experiencing difficulties adapting to and completing postsecondary school. Although both of these student characteristics are indicative of risk in isolation, we were interested in developing further understanding about the dual challenge, or cumulative risk, associated with having a disability and being a first-generation college student.
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Title:
Academic Preparedness of First-Generation College Students: Different Perspectives
Author(s):
Atherton, Matthew C.
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
As student populations continue to become more diversified, institutions must understand students’ academic preparedness to better serve them. A significant amount of research and literature focuses on experiences of students whose parents had little or no college education. Although these first-generation students have much in common with other disadvantaged student groups, their situation presents unique conditions and obstacles to their college experience. This research project seeks to focus on the topic of academic preparedness of first-generation students. More specifically, this project builds on previous research on academic preparedness of first-generation students by exploring differences in students’ attitudes about preparedness compared with traditional academic measures. This study investigates whether first-generation student status affects self-assessment of academic preparedness in the same way it affects traditional measures of academic preparedness.
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Title:
An Examination of High-Achieving First-Generation College Students from Low-Income Backgrounds
Author(s):
Hébert, Thomas P.
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
Experiences of 10 high-achieving first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds were the focus of this qualitative research study. Family adversity and difficult personal experiences during adolescence were major themes; however, students benefitted from emotionally supportive K-12 educators and academic rigor in high school. Sustained family pride helped to keep them focused on reaching their goals, as well as intellectual engagement at the university, and influential mentors. The 10 participants developed a strong sense of purpose at the university and graduated well prepared for careers and graduate school. Implications of the findings are presented along with suggestions for designing effective university experiences for talented first-generation students.
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Title:
Are College Faculty and First-Generation, Low-Income Students Ready for Each Other?
Author(s):
Schademan, Alfred R.; Thompson, Maris R.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
Utilizing current research on college readiness as well as the role of cultural agents as a conceptual framework, this qualitative study investigates student and faculty beliefs about readiness and the pedagogical practices that allow instructors to effectively serve as cultural agents for first-generation, low-income students. Three major findings that emerged from the study are as follows: (a) faculty beliefs about student readiness impact the degree to which faculty serve as cultural agents for FGLI students, (b) faculty who serve as cultural agents enact particular practices and dispositions that enable students to become more academically prepared, and (c) FGLI students arrive at college with diverse forms of readiness that require varying forms of nurturing and support. A key implication of the study is that colleges should bear a greater responsibility in supporting faculty and other campus cultural agents in nurturing the success of FGLI students.
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Title:
Becoming a College Student: An Empirical Phenomenological Analysis of First Generation College Students
Author(s):
Whitehead, Patrick M.; Wright, Robert
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
This article is an empirical phenomenological examination of the perceived security that first generation college students have in their identity as college students. First generation college students (FGCS) have been defined as students whose parents or guardians have not completed a 2- or 4-year postsecondary degree. Previous research (Davis, 2010; Peteet, Montgomery, & Weekes, 2015; Ward, Siegel, & Davenport, 2012) suggests that FGCS have a particularly difficult time finding confidence in their identities as college students, and that this exacerbates the difficulties that they face as students. The imposter phenomenon (IP) is the deep conviction that one is not good enough to deserve the title, responsibility, recognition, or job that one has (Clance, 1985). IP has been tied to FGCS both theoretically (Davis, 2010) and empirically (Peteet et al., 2015). This study examines the experience of overcoming IP by asking seven self-identified FGCS to describe the experience of recognizing their own identities as college students. There is an important difference that could be understood by separating students who experience that their confidence in this identity is authentic and those who do not. When students view college as in service to something greater, we found that they are uniquely impervious to the obstacles college students typically face. The discussion proposes two simple changes that can be made in service to help students navigate this transition in college student identity: the first is a suggestion for student advising and the second involves classroom instruction.
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Title:
Blue-Collar Scholars?: Mediators and Moderators of University Attrition in First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Martinez, Julia A.; Sher, Kenneth J.; Krull, Jennifer L.; Wood, Phillip K.
Publication Year:
2009
Abstract:
Many college entrants’ parents do not have college degrees. These entrants are at high risk for attrition, suggesting it is critical to understand mechanisms of attrition relative to parental education. Moderators and mediators of the effect of parental education on attrition were investigated in 3,290 students over 4 years. Low parental education was a risk for attrition; importantly, college GPAs both moderated and mediated this effect, and ACT scores, scholarships, loans, and full-time work mediated this effect. Drug use, psychological distress, and few reported academic challenges predicted attrition, independent of parental education. These findings might inform interventions to decrease attrition.
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Title:
Clearing the path for first generation college students: qualitative and intersectional studies of educational mobility
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
This collection explores social processes and meanings germane to the educational mobility of first-generation college students before and during their matriculation into higher education. The contributing scholars examine dynamics, policies, practices, and programs that inform college access and persistence for first generation students.
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Title:
Closing the Social Class Achievement Gap for First-Generation Students in Undergraduate Biology
Author(s):
Harackiewicz, Judith M.; Canning, Elizabeth A.; Tibbetts, Yoi; Giffen, Cynthia J.; Blair, Seth S.; Rouse, Douglas I.; Hyde, Janet S.
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
Many students start college intending to pursue a career in the biosciences, but too many abandon this goal because they struggle in introductory biology. Interventions have been developed to close achievement gaps for underrepresented minority students and women, but no prior research has attempted to close the gap for first-generation students, a population that accounts for nearly a fifth of college students. We report a values affirmation intervention conducted with 798 U.S. students (154 first-generation) in an introductory biology course for majors. For first-generation students, values affirmation significantly improved final course grades and retention in the second course in the biology sequence, as well as overall GPA for the semester. This brief intervention narrowed the achievement gap between first-generation and continuing generation students for course grades by 50% and increased retention in a critical gateway course by 20%. Our results suggest that educators can expand the pipeline for first-generation students to continue studying in the biosciences with psychological interventions.
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Title:
Closing the opportunity gap: identity-conscious strategies for retention and student success
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
This book offers a novel and proven approach to the retention and success of underrepresented students. It advocates a strategic approach through which an institution sets clear goals and metrics and integrates the identity support work of cultural / diversity centers with skill building through cohort activities, enabling students to successfully navigate college, graduate on time and transition to the world of work. Underlying the process is an intersectional and identity-conscious, rather than identity-centered, framework that addresses the complexity of students’ assets and needs as they encounter the unfamiliar terrain of college. In the current landscape of higher education, colleges and universities normally divide their efforts between departments and programs that explicitly work on developing students’ identities and separate departments or programs that work on retaining and graduating higher-risk students. This book contends that the gap between cultural/diversity centers and institutional retention efforts is both a missed opportunity and one that perpetuates the opportunity gap between students of color and low-income students and their peers. Identity-consciousness, the central framework of this book, differs from an identity-centric approach where the identity itself is the focus of the intervention. For example, a Latino men’s program can be developed as an identity-centered initiative if the outcomes of the program are all tied to a deeper or more complex understanding of one’s Latino-ness and/or masculinity. Alternately, this same program can be an identity-conscious student success program if it is designed from the ground up with the students’ racial and gender identities in mind, but the intended outcomes are tied to student success, such as term-to-term credit completion, yearly persistence, engagement in high-impact practices, or timely graduation. Following the introductory chapter focused on framing how we understand risk and success in the academy, the remaining chapters present programmatic interventions that have been tested and found effective for students of color, working class college students, and first-generation students. Each chapter opens with a student story to frame the problem, outlines the key research that informs the program, and offers sufficient descriptive information for staff or faculty considering implementing a similar identity-conscious intervention on their campus. The chapters conclude with a discussion of assessment, and suggested “Action Items” as starting points.
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Title:
College aspirations and access in working-class rural communities: the mixed signals, challenges, and new language first-generation students encounter
Author(s):
Ardoin, Sonja
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
College Aspirations and Access in Working Class Rural Communities: The Mixed Signals, Challenges, and New Language First-Generation Students Encounter explores how a working class, rural environment influences rural students’ opportunities to pursue higher education and engage in the college choice process. Based on a case study with accounts from rural high school students and counselors, this book examines how these communities perceive higher education and what challenges arise for both rural students and counselors. The book addresses how college knowledge and university jargon illustrate the gap between rural cultural capital and higher education cultural capital. Insights about approaches to reduce barriers created by college knowledge and university jargon are shared and strategies for offering rural students pathways to learn academic language and navigate higher education are presented for both secondary and higher education institutions.
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Title:
Community colleges and first-generation students: academic discourse in the writing classroom
Author(s):
Osborn, Jan
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
Community Colleges and First-Generation Students examines how first-generation students from diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds are initiated into what is known as academic discourse, particularly at the community college. Osborn systematically looks at specific classroom discourses through detailed evidence provided by the diversities represented by the students, and how the students negotiated their identities in terms of the ideological directionality in play.
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Title:
Comparing the Determinants of Persistence for First-Generation and Continuing-Generation Students
Author(s):
Lohfink, Mandy Martin; Paulsen, Michael B.
Publication Year:
2005
Abstract:
In this study we examined and compared the determinants of first-to-second-year persistence for 1,167 first-generation and 3,017 continuing-generation students at four-year institutions, using data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Survey (Wine, et al., 2002). Because first-generation students are overrepresented in the most disadvantaged racial, income, and gender groups, we used a critical theorist perspective to frame the research problem, guide inquiry, and interpret results.
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Title:
Completing college: Assessing graduation rates at four-year institutions
Author(s):
DeAngelo, Linda; Franke, Ray; Hurtado, Sylvia; Pryor, John H.; Tran, Serge
Publication Year:
2011
Abstract:
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Title:
Creating the path to success in the classroom: teaching to close the graduation gap for minority, first-generation & academically unprepared students
Author(s):
Gabriel, Kathleen F.
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
This is a book for all faculty who are concerned with promoting the persistence of all students whom they teach. Most recognize that faculty play a major role in student retention and success because they typically have more direct contact with students than others on campus. However, little attention has been paid to role of the faculty in this specific mission or to the corresponding characteristics of teaching, teacher-student interactions, and connection to student affairs activities that lead to students’ long-term engagement, to their academic success, and ultimately to graduation. At a time when the numbers of underrepresented students – working adults, minority, first-generation, low-income, and international students – is increasing, this book, a companion to her earlier Teaching Underprepared Students, addresses that lack of specific guidance by providing faculty with additional evidence-based instructional practices geared toward reaching all the students in their classrooms, including those from groups that traditionally have been the least successful, while maintaining high standards and expectations. Recognizing that there are no easy answers, Kathleen Gabriel offers faculty ideas that can be incorporated in, or modified to align with, faculty’s existing teaching methods. She covers topics such as creating a positive and inclusive course climate, fostering a community of learners, increasing engagement and students’ interactions, activating connections with culturally relevant material, reinforcing self-efficacy with growth mindset and mental toughness techniques, improving lectures by building in meaningful educational activities, designing reading and writing assignments for stimulating deep learning and critical thinking, and making grade and assessment choices that can promote learning.
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Title:
Cultural capital and first-generation college success
Author(s):
Dumais, Susan A.; Ward, Aaryn
Publication Year:
2010
Abstract:
Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 and the Postsecondary Education Transcript Study, we assess the levels of cultural capital possessed by first-generation college students and their non-first-generation peers. Drawing from past quantitative and qualitative studies, we operationalize cultural capital both as high arts participation rewarded by those in power, and as purposeful interactions with key gatekeepers to access information and resources. In doing so, we aim to highlight the importance of both structure and human agency in cultural capital theory. We analyze the effects cultural capital has on enrollment in and persistence through a four-year postsecondary education and on undergraduate grade point averages (GPA), and determine whether cultural capital has a greater effect on non-first-generation students (the reproduction model), first-generation students (the mobility model), or neither group. We find that family cultural capital, cultural classes, and the number of ways parents helped in the college application process are all significant for four-year college enrollment, and parents’ help and students’ receiving assistance at school with their college applications are significant for graduation. No significant associations are found between the cultural capital variables and GPA. Overall, no support was found for either the reproduction or the mobility models.
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Title:
Culture Shock Revisited: The Social and Cultural Contingencies to Class Marginality
Author(s):
Jack, Anthony Abraham
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
Existing explanations of class marginality predict similar social experiences for all lower-income undergraduates. This article extends this literature by presenting data highlighting the cultural and social contingencies that account for differences in experiences of class marginality. The degree of cultural and social dissimilarity between one's life before and during college helps explain variation in experiences. I contrast the experiences of two groups of lower-income, black undergraduates—the Doubly Disadvantaged and Privileged Poor. Although from comparable disadvantaged households and neighborhoods, they travel along divergent paths to college. Unlike the Doubly Disadvantaged, whose precollege experiences are localized, the Privileged Poor cross social boundaries for school. In college, the Doubly Disadvantaged report negative interactions with peers and professors and adopt isolationist strategies, while the Privileged Poor generally report positive interactions and adopt integrationist strategies. In addition to extending present conceptualizations of class marginality, this study advances our understanding of how and when class and culture matter in stratification processes in college.
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Title:
Decoding the Cost of College; The Case for Transparent Financial Aid Award Letters
Author(s):
Burd, Stephen; Fishman, Rachel; Keane, Laura; Habbert, Julie; Barrett, Ben; Dancy, Kim; Nguyen, Sophie; Williams, Brendan
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
Students and families confront a detrimental lack of information and transparency when paying for college. New America and uAspire, a nonprofit leader on college affordability, analyzed thousands of financial aid award letters and found not only that financial aid is insufficient to cover the cost of college for many students, but also that award letters lack consistency and transparency. As a result, it is exceedingly difficult for students and families to make a financially-informed college decision. While solutions for tackling the cost barrier may be complex, solutions to improve award letter terminology and formatting are well within reach. Through a quantitative analysis of over 11,000 financial aid award letters, we found that students who receive a Pell Grant are still left to cover a significant gap—an average of nearly $12,000. The gap persisted even when students made cost-saving decisions about where to attend (public versus private colleges and universities) or where to live (at home versus on campus). Given that financial aid falls short, clear and consistent communication on award letters is critical. After a thorough qualitative review using a subset of 515 award letters from unique institutions, we emerged with seven key findings: -Confusing Jargon and Terminology: Of the 455 colleges that offered an unsubsidized student loan, we found 136 unique terms for that loan, including 24 that did not include the word “loan.” -Omission of the Complete Cost: Of our 515 letters, more than one-third did not include any cost information with which to contextualize the financial aid offered. -Failure to Differentiate Types of Aid: Seventy percent of letters grouped all aid together and provided no definitions to indicate to students how grants and scholarships, loans, and work-study all differ. -Misleading Packaging of Parent PLUS Loans: Nearly 15 percent of letters included a PLUS loan as an “award,” making the financial aid package appear far more generous than it really was. -Vague Definitions and Poor Placement of Work-Study: Of institutions that offered work-study, 70 percent provided no explanation of work-study and how it differs from other types of aid. -Inconsistent Bottom Line Calculations: In our sample, only 40 percent calculated what students would need to pay, and those 194 institutions had 23 different ways of calculating remaining costs. -No Clear Next Steps: Only about half of letters provided information about what to do to accept or decline awards, and those that did had inconsistent policies. Based on these findings, we present seven policy recommendations, calling on federal, state, and institutional parties to create systems-level change. Federal policymakers should conduct consumer testing, and then set and require award letter standards via federal mandate. State governments should adopt common award letter terms, calculations, and formats across their systems of higher education. Colleges and universities should develop more student-centered financial aid offers and tools, as well as align their efforts with other key departments serving student financial needs.
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Title:
Deepening Understanding of Prior Knowledge: What Diverse First-Generation College Students in the U.S. Can Teach Us
Author(s):
Castillo-Montoya, Milagros
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
Educational research indicates that teachers revealing and utilizing students' prior knowledge supports students' academic learning. Yet, the variation in students' prior knowledge is not fully known. To better understand students' prior knowledge, I drew on sociocultural learning theories to examine racially and ethnically diverse college students' sociopolitical prior knowledge, a component of sociopolitical consciousness. In this qualitative study, I interviewed 18 first-generation college students in the U.S. who were enrolled in two introductory undergraduate sociology courses. Study participants identified as African-American, Latino, and/or White. The study reveals that students' sociopolitical prior knowledge is comprised of awareness and understanding and it varies by topic of discussion. Further, college students' sociopolitical prior knowledge is informed by lived experiences and can relate to subject-matter content. Implications for teaching and learning include having a deepened sense of novice learners' modes of thinking.
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Title:
Defining College Readiness from the Inside Out: First-Generation College Student Perspectives - Kathleen L. Byrd, Ginger Macdonald, 2005
Author(s):
Byrd, Kathleen L.; Macdonald, Ginger
Publication Year:
2005
Abstract:
This study provides understanding of college readiness from the perspectives of older first-generation college students who transferred from community colleges. Results indicate that life experiences contribute to academic skills, time management, goal focus, and self-advocacy. Research is recommended to improve nontraditional student advising and placement, community college-to-university transfer, and college reading instruction.
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Title:
Diversity, equity, and inclusivity in contemporary higher education
Author(s):
Hightower, Damara
Publication Year:
2019
Abstract:
Includes chapter: Co-opting the anomalies : re-examining educational resilience among first generation students by Damara Hightower
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Title:
Early Experiences and Integration in the Persistence of First-Generation College Students in STEM and Non-STEM Majors
Author(s):
Dika, Sandra L.; D'Amico, Mark M.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
Representation of diverse groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is a persistent concern in the United States. Although there have been some strides toward more diverse representation, significant problems of underrepresentation remain in particular STEM fields: physical sciences, engineering, math, and computer sciences (PEMC). The purpose of this study is to understand the significance of pre-college personal and academic factors along with early college experiences to explain persistence among first-generation college students (FGCS) considering possible differences among PEMC-STEM majors, other-STEM majors, and non-STEM majors. Using institutional and survey data from one 4-year urban research institution in the Southeast, logistic regression models demonstrate the importance of early academic performance (first-semester GPA) to increase odds of FGCS persistence across majors; and also reveal important differences. Besides early academic performance, the only other significant factor for persistence of PEMC-STEM majors was perceived preparation in math. Perceived social fit was significant for persistence for the other-STEM and non-STEM majors, whereas perceived academic fit was only significant for non-STEM majors. These results align generally with previous research, and also suggest that examining differences among STEM subgroups may help develop more nuanced understandings of the needs of different groups.
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Title:
Economically and educationally challenged students in higher education: access to outcomes
Author(s):
Walpole, MaryBeth; Association for the Study of Higher Education
Publication Year:
2007
Abstract:
The gap between low-and high-SES student college enrollment has not diminished in decades. This volume provides an overview of the current research on this problem and provides ideas and insights that may help reduce the gap. It integrates the research on low-SES, low-income, working-class, and first-generation students' access to, enrollment and experiences in, and outcomes of college. The author suggests economically and educationally challenged (EEC) students as an umbrella term for these overlapping categories of students and provides reasons why such a term may be appropriate. The volume reviews how scholars define socioeconomic status and its component variables and how those definitions are used in higher education research. It also highlights conceptual frameworks and models used in research on these students and reviews EEC students' access to, experiences in, and outcomes of college attendance. Students with multiple identities-for example, being from a particular social class while also belonging to specific racial, ethnic, and gender groups-are discussed as well. Since these students disproportionately attend particular types of institutions, organizational responses and policies specific to this group of students are also addressed. The volume concludes with implications and recommendations for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.
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Title:
Effects of Motivation on Educational Attainment: Ethnic and Developmental Differences Among First-Generation Students
Author(s):
Próspero, Moisés; Russell, Amy Catherine; Vohra-Gupta, Shetal
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This study investigated differences in educational motivation among Hispanic and non-Hispanic first-generation students (FGS). Participants were 315 high school and college students who completed a revised academic motivation survey that measured participants’ educational motivation (intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and amotivation). The study found that extrinsic and amotivation were significant predictors of grade point averages (GPAs) among FGS. In addition, high school FGS and Hispanic students were more likely to report higher intrinsic motivation than college FGS and non-Hispanic students. Implications for higher education are discussed.
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Title:
Envisioning equity: educating and graduating low-income, first-generation, and minority college students
Author(s):
Provitera-McGlynn, Angela
Publication Year:
2011
Abstract:
In Envisioning Equity: Educating and Graduating Low-income, First-generation, and Minority College Students, one of the newest releases from Atwood Publishing, veteran educator and professor emeritus Angela Provitera McGlynn makes a compelling case for the vital necessity of improving and expanding the reach of higher education in the United States. She underlines the importance of this task by powerfully illustrating America s distinct slippage in education as compared to other leading countries on the international scene. She also addresses solutions, investigating answers to two crucial questions: What can college professors do to promote academic success? And, what can college administrators and public policy makers do to get more students through the educational pipeline to a college degree? McGlynn argues that America will not reach its goal of educating more young people without graduating more low-income, first-generation to college, and minority college students. Graduating more of this historically underserved population is the right thing to do, both for them as individuals and for our nation as a whole.
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Title:
Examining Conceptual and Operational Definitions of "First-Generation College Student" in Research on Retention
Author(s):
Peralta, Karie Jo; Klonowski, Monica
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
This research brief reports that students who have parents with little to no postsecondary education have an increasing presence in colleges and universities. Researchers recognize that these individuals face unique barriers in higher education programs that affect their ability to graduate. Given the wide concern about student retention, attention to this group of college students labeled "first-generation," is particularly important. The purpose of this article is to shed light on the extent of inconsistency between definitions of the concept "first-generation" college student in studies that are published in high-impact higher education journals.
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Title:
Expanding Access and Opportunity: How Small and Mid-Sized Independent Colleges Serve First-Generation and Low-Income Students
Author(s):
Rine, P. Jesse; Council of Independent Colleges
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
If the United States is to succeed as a nation in reducing educational disparity, restoring social mobility, and retaining national competitiveness, it must make every effort to ensure that low-income and first-generation students have access to higher education and the support systems they need to obtain a college degree. This objective will require understanding the characteristics and challenges unique to low-income and first-generation student populations, as well as the types of educational environments best suited to serve these students. Not only do first-generation and low-income students experience hurdles in accessing higher education, they also tend to be less engaged in their college experience and less likely to persist to degree than other students. With public resources scarce, policy makers and funders must direct support to those institutions that are most effective in admitting, retaining, and graduating first-generation and low-income students. Often overlooked in strategies to promote college attainment of underrepresented students are small and mid-sized independent colleges and universities. This report demonstrates that students of all academic and social backgrounds attend smaller private colleges. Moreover, these institutions provide educational opportunity to students with varying degrees of academic preparation, not just those who have had access to the best high schools and socioeconomic support structures. First-generation and low-income students receive an excellent education at smaller private colleges, which provide a more personalized, rigorous, and engaged college experience than larger public universities provide--and at a fraction of the cost to society. The following are appended: (1) Complete Methodology; and (2) Data Tables.
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Title:
Exploring Home-School Value Conflicts: Implications for Academic Achievement and Well-Being among Latino First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Vasquez-Salgado, Yolanda; Greenfield, Patricia M.; Burgos-Cienfuegos, Rocio
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
U.S. colleges place a high value on the fulfillment of academic obligations by their students. The academic achievement of each individual student is the institutional priority; this is an individualistic frame of reference. However, many Latino first-generation college students have been raised to prioritize family obligations; their home socialization is collectivistic. Our exploratory study investigated how Latino first-generation college students experience home-school value conflict between family obligation and individual academic achievement during their transition to college. A group interview followed the prompt of a conflict scenario that each group member first responded to in writing. The written responses provide evidence of the prioritization of school or home and the conflict that can arise in making these decisions. The group discussions that followed identified multiple types of home-school conflict and provide insights into how these conflicts are experienced. Conflicts revealed by the data included attending family events or visiting parents versus doing academic work, family assistance versus focusing on academics, allocating money for travel to see family versus allocating money for educational expenses. In turn, these home-school value conflicts were experienced both as lasting over time and as playing a negative role in students' academic achievement and sense of well-being.
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Title:
Family environments, school resources, and educational outcomes
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
Includes Chapter: The effect of mothers' educational credentials on children's outcomes : does being a first-generation or continuing-generation college graduate matter? by Susan A. Dumais and Laura Nichols
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Title:
Family involvement: Impacts on postsecondary educational success for first- generation Appalachian college students
Author(s):
Bryan, Elizabeth; Simmons, Leigh Ann
Publication Year:
2009
Abstract:
First-generation college students face a number of barriers to academic success and completion of their degrees. Using Bronfenbrenner's (1989) ecological theory as a framework, qualitative research was used to examine the experiences of 10 first-generation Appalachian Kentucky university students (mean age = 21 years) and factors they attributed to their educational success. Content analysis was used to analyze the data. Seven themes representing participants' experiences in a university setting were identified: (a) close-knit families and communities, (b) separate identities, (c) knowledge of college procedures, (d) pressure to succeed, (e) returning home, (f) the pervasiveness of poverty, and (g) the importance of early intervention programming. Additional areas for research and potential policy adjustments for universities serving this population are presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
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Title:
Finding My Way: Perceptions of Institutional Support and Belonging in Low-Income, First-Generation, First-Year College Students
Author(s):
Means, Darris R.; Pyne, Kimberly B.
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
For this qualitative case study we explored students' perceptions of institutional support and sense of belonging within the college environment. Following 10 low-income, first-generation college students out of a college access program and through their first year of college, we examined institutional support structures that have been reported to increase students' sense of academic and social belonging, including comprehensive scholarship programs, social identity-based centers and student organizations, residence hall communities, faculty relationships, academic support services, and high-impact educational experiences. In spite of the positive and stabilizing potential of these support structures, several of them simultaneously undermined students' sense of belonging.
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Title:
First in my Family: A Profile of First Generation Students at Four-Year Institutions Since 1971
Author(s):
Saenz, Victor B.; Hurtado, Sylvia; Barrera, Doug; Wolf, De'Sha; Yeung, Fanny
Publication Year:
2008
Abstract:
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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Title:
First- Versus Continuing-Generation Adult Students On College Perceptions: Are Differences Actually Because of Demographic Variance?
Author(s):
Giancola, Jennifer Kohler; Munz, David C.; Trares, Shawn
Publication Year:
2008
Abstract:
The profile of students is changing, with an increase in first-generation and adult students. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in college perceptions between first-generation and continuing-generation adult undergraduates while controlling for demographic variables. The study and hypotheses are grounded in the Model of College Outcomes for Adult Students. It was hypothesized that first-generation students would report higher importance and lower satisfaction scores on the following variables: instructional effectiveness, academic advising, registration effectiveness, campus climate, safety and security, academic services, admissions and financial aid effectiveness, and service excellence. The results revealed that sex (more females) accounted for variance between first- and continuing-generation students on importance. There were no differences regarding satisfaction. With a higher number of female adult and first-generation students, higher education should better examine how to meet these students' needs. Recommendations for future research and practical implications are provided.
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Title:
First- and Second-Generation College Students: A Comparison of Their Engagement and Intellectual Development
Author(s):
Pike, Gary R.; Kuh, George D.
Publication Year:
2005
Abstract:
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Title:
First-Generation College Students and Their Pursuit of the American Dream
Author(s):
Banks-Santilli, Linda
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
First-generation college students, students whose parents have not earned a four-year degree, are not new to higher education, but their increasing presence at private, four-year institutions requires careful attention from administration and faculty. The rising costs of higher education combined with the nation's recent economic decline have made earning a college degree and achieving the American dream nearly impossible for these students. This qualitative research study seeks to understand the lives of first-generation college students at a small, private college in the Northeast. It draws on the analyses of demographic, interview, and case study data to examine the experiences of first-generation students and then to compare them to related research in the fields of sociology, psychology, and college access and preparation. The study results in three distinct case studies that provide insight into the individual lives of first-generation students. It concludes with specific steps this institution can take to respond to the needs of this growing population on its campus. Recommendations, though specific to the case, can be applied to other institutions facing similar challenges.
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Title:
First-Generation College Students: Characteristics, Experiences, and Cognitive Development
Author(s):
Terenzini, Patrick T.; Springer, Leonard; Yaeger, Patricia M.; Pascarella, Ernest T.; Nora, Amaury
Publication Year:
1996
Abstract:
This study sought answers to three questions: (1) Do the precollege characteristics of first-generation students differ from those of traditional students? (2) Do first-generation students' college experiences differ from those of other students? (3) What are the educational consequences of any differences on first-year gains in students' reading, math, and critical thinking abilities? Answers come from 2,685 students (825 first-generation and 1,860 traditional students) who entered 23 diverse institutions nationwide in Fall 1992 and who completed one year of study. First-generation students differ from their traditional peers in both entering characteristics and college experiences. Although traditional students make greater net gains in reading during their first year, the two groups gain to about the same degree in math and critical thinking skills. Those gains, however, appear to result from somewhat different experiences.
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Title:
First-Generation Graduate Students and Attrition Risks
Author(s):
Seay, Sandra E.; Lifton, Donald E.; Wuensch, Karl L.; Bradshaw, Lynn K.; McDowelle, James O.
Publication Year:
2008
Abstract:
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Title:
First-Generation Sociology Majors
Author(s):
Spalter-Roth, Roberta; Senter, Mary S.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
Compared to peers whose parents graduated from college, first-generation college students have a limited knowledge of campus life, less understanding of college expectations, greater chances of dropping out, and a lower likelihood of graduating within five years. Moreover, first-generation students do not catch up during their college years because they are less likely to develop relationships with faculty and with peers. Given these circumstances, readers should not be surprised that researchers have found that first-generation college students, across majors, were less satisfied with their college experience than their fellow students whose parents have college degrees. But here is the good news! Earlier studies of first-generation students have only told half the story. They have not examined the post-graduate experiences of first-generation students who did not drop out but persisted to graduation. Using the American Sociological Association’s longitudinal survey of sociology majors (funded by the National Science Foundation), we have compared the undergraduate experiences and satisfaction with post-graduate jobs of 911 first generation students with the rest of their sociology major peers
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Title:
First-Generation Students in Postsecondary Education: A Look at Their College Transcripts
Author(s):
Chen, Xianglei; Carroll, C. Dennis
Publication Year:
2005
Abstract:
This report uses data from the Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS) of the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) to examine the majors and coursetaking patterns of students who are the first members of their families to attend college (referred to as “first-generation students” in this report) and compare their postsecondary experiences and outcomes with those of students whose parents attended or completed college. The results indicate that first-generation students were at a disadvantage in terms of their access to, persistence through, and completion of postsecondary education. Once in college, their relative disadvantage continued with respect to coursetaking and academic performance. First-generation status was significantly and negatively associated with lower bachelor’s degree completion rates even after controlling for a wide range of interrelated factors, including students’ demographic backgrounds, academic preparation, enrollment characteristics, postsecondary coursetaking, and academic performance. This report also demonstrates that more credits and higher grades in the first year and fewer withdrawn or repeated courses were strongly related to the chances of students (regardless of generation status) persisting in postsecondary education and earning a bachelor’s degree.
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Title:
First-Generation Students' Persistence at Four-Year Institutions
Author(s):
Ishitani, Terry T.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
Coupled with the most recent national data set, this study investigated the college persistence behavior of first-generation students and found that they were most likely to withdraw from college during their second year. Moreover, this study unpacked the time-varying nature of academic and social integration. The effect of social integration on persistence was strengthened as students progressed in their college careers, whereas the effect of academic integration was greater in the first two years in college. Findings of the current study assist institutions in identifying unique issues triggering withdrawals at specific periods in college, and systematically incorporating these issues in their retention efforts.
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Title:
First-Generation Students: College Access, Persistence, and Postbachelor's Outcomes. Stats in Brief. NCES 2018-421
Author(s):
Cataldi, Emily Forrest; Bennett, Christopher T.; Chen, Xianglei; National Center for Education Statistics (ED); RTI International
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
This Statistics in Brief focuses on students whose parents have not attended college and examines these students' high school success and postsecondary enrollment, persistence and degree completion once they enrolled in college, and graduate school enrollment and employment outcomes after they attained a bachelor's degree. Their outcomes are compared to those of their peers whose parents had attended or completed college. This report draws on data from three nationally representative studies from the National Center for Education Statistics: the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), the 2004/09 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:04/09), and the 2008/12 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/12).
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Title:
First-Generation Students: Undergraduates Whose Parents Never Enrolled in Postsecondary Education
Author(s):
D'Amico, Aurora; Nunez, Anne-Marie; Cuccaro-Alamin, Stephanie; Carroll, C. Dennis
Publication Year:
1998
Abstract:
This report examines the postsecondary experiences of first-generation college students and compares them with those of their counterparts whose parents had education beyond high school. First-generation students were more likely to be enrolled part-time and to attend public 2-year institutions rather than 4-year institutions. They were also less likely to have earned a postsecondary degree within 5 years after enrolling. However, first-generation students who had attained certificates or degrees were employed in similar positions and earned comparable salaries to those of their counterparts whose parents had attended college.
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Title:
First-Generation Undergraduate Students and the Impacts of the First Year of College: Additional Evidence
Author(s):
Padgett, Ryan D.; Johnson, Megan P.; Pascarella, Ernest T.
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
Using longitudinal data from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education, our findings suggest that first-generation students are at a significant disadvantage across cognitive and psychosocial outcomes compared to students whose parents have at least some postsecondary education. Furthermore, we tested for the conditional effects of good practices on first-year outcomes and found that effects of good practices on both cognitive and psychosocial outcomes differed in magnitude, and sometimes in direction, for first-generation versus non-first-generation students.
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Title:
First-Generation and Continuing-Generation College Students: A Comparison of High School and Postsecondary Experiences. Stats in Brief. NCES 2018-009
Author(s):
Redford, Jeremy; Hoyer, Kathleen Mulvaney; National Center for Education Statistics (ED); American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
This Statistics in Brief examines background and educational characteristics, plans for college, postsecondary enrollment, and postsecondary completion patterns of first-generation college students and their peers whose parents have college degrees. The brief also explores how postsecondary plans, attendance, and completion varies between these two groups of students. In addition, the brief presents the reasons why some 2002 high school sophomores who were postsecondary enrollees did not obtain a credential by 2012.
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Title:
First-generation Disadvantage and College Enrollment/Completion
Author(s):
Wilbur, Tabitha G.; Roscigno, Vincent J.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
There are large inequalities in who enrolls in four-year collegiate programs, who finishes, and why. In this article, we draw on several waves of the Educational Longitudinal Study, explore family disadvantages, and uniquely highlight challenges first-generation students face. Family resources, cultural capital, and college-focused parental actions and their consequences for high school achievement explain most of the college attendance disadvantage. Inequalities in college completion, however, are notably also explained by disparate stressors, the need to work, and limited social/curricular integration while in college. We discuss these patterns and what they reveal about inequality and the limitations of contemporary college access.
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Title:
First-generation college students: understanding and improving the experience from recruitment to commencement
Author(s):
Ward, Lee; Siegel, Michael J.; Davenport, Zebulun; Gardner, John
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
First-generation students are frequently marginalized on their campuses, treated with benign disregard, and placed at a competitive disadvantage because of their invisibility. While they include 51% of all undergraduates, or approximately 9.3 million students, they are less likely than their peers to earn degrees. Among students enrolled in two-year institutions, they are significantly less likely to persist into a second year. First-Generation College Students offers academic leaders and student affairs professionals a guide for understanding the special challenges and common barriers these students face and provides the necessary strategies for helping them transition through and graduate from their chosen institutions. Based in solid research, the authors describe best practices and include suggestions and techniques that can help leaders design and implement effective curricula, out-of-class learning experiences, and student support services, as well as develop strategic plans that address issues sure to arise in the future. The authors offer an analysis of first-generation student expectations for college life and academics and examine the powerful role cultural capital plays in shaping their experiences and socialization. Providing a template for other campuses, the book highlights programmatic initiatives at colleges around the county that effectively serve first-generation students and create a powerful learning environment for their success. First-Generation College Students provides a much-needed portrait of the cognitive, developmental, and social factors that affect the college-going experiences and retention rates of this growing population of college students
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Title:
First-generation students' academic engagement and retention
Author(s):
Soria, Krista M.; Stebleton, Michael J.
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This study investigates differences in academic engagement and retention between first-generation and non-first-generation undergraduate students. Utilizing the Student Experience in the Research University survey of 1864 first-year students at a large, public research university located in the United States, this study finds that first-generation students have lower academic engagement (as measured by the frequency with which students interacted with faculty, contributed to class discussions, brought up ideas from different courses during class discussions, and asked insightful questions in class) and lower retention as compared to non-first-generation students. Recommendations that higher education faculty can follow to promote the academic engagement and retention of first-generation students are addressed.
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Title:
Higher education and first-generation students: cultivating community, voice, and place for the new majority
Author(s):
Jehangir, Rashné Rustom
Publication Year:
2010
Abstract:
Higher Education and First-Generation Students offers a rich understanding of the experience of students who are the first in their families to attend college. Jehangir contends that first-generation students are isolated and marginalized on many large college campuses, and she considers learning communities and critical multicultural pedagogies as vehicles to cultivate community, voice, and place for this growing group of students. This book is a theoretically informed study of the lived experience of FG students and draws on their voices to demonstrate how their insights compare with what we, as educators, think we know about them.
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Title:
Higher education transitions: theory and research
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
Includes chapter: "Cutting rough diamonds" : the transition experiences first generation students in higher education by J. Hope
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Title:
In Search of the Silken Purse: Factors in Attrition among First-Generation Students. Revised
Author(s):
Billson, Janet Mancini; Terry, Margaret Brooks
Publication Year:
1982
Abstract:
The influence of family background, including parental education, on college student attrition was evaluated with first- and second-generation American students. A total of 701 enrolled students and those who left before graduation were surveyed at a primarily residential private liberal arts college and at a primarily commuter state-supported liberal arts college. It was found that first-generation students approach the college experience with about the same degree of normative congruence as second-generation students with regard to their expectations. They value higher education for the intellectual growth and for the career preparation they anticipate receiving. In respect to a second aspect of social integration, structural or affiliational integration, first-generation students were at a disadvantage in comparison to the students whose parents had significant experience with the college or university setting. First-generation students suffer from a lower level of structural integration since they are less likely to live on campus, be involved in campus organizations, meet or pursue their most important friendships on campus, or work on campus. As for academic integration, first-generation students appear to have equally high aspirations regarding level of education they expect to attain, but those who withdraw are not as strongly convinced that college is the only or best route to life success. First-generation students appear to have lower congruity between their values toward education and their parents' values; receive less support of all types from their parents; and have heavier job loads. These factors increase their vulnerability to attrition. A bibliography is appended. (SW)
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Title:
Influence of First Generation Status on Students' Perceptions of Faculty
Author(s):
Hutchison, Micol
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
While quantitative research has determined that first-generation college students (FGS) are less likely to interact with faculty than are their non-FGS peers, this qualitative study examines how incoming first-year college students, both FGS and non-FGS, perceive faculty-student interaction and whether they consider it important. Addressing different types of interaction with college instructors, both in-class and out-of-class, participants across a range of FGS status shared their views through surveys, individual interviews, and focus groups. Focusing specifically on incoming first year students, this study finds that FGS described emerging comfort with faculty over the course of their first months of college. After completing a pre-college summer program, the FGS described a greater increase in their comfort level with faculty than did non-FGS, indicating that FGS were adapting to what Pierre Bourdieu calls the "field" of college and acquiring cultural capital that positively influenced their ease with faculty-student interactions.
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Title:
Is the "First-Generation Student" Term Useful for Understanding Inequality? The Role of Intersectionality in Illuminating the Implications of an Accepted--Yet Unchallenged--Term
Author(s):
Nguyen, Thai-Huy; Nguyen, Bach Mai Dolly
Publication Year:
2018-03
Abstract:
First-generation students (FGSs) have received a great deal of attention in education research, practice, and policy. The difficulty of understanding and subsequently addressing the various and persistent configurations of inequality associated with FGSs lies with the complicated yet obscure state of the FGS term itself. Leaving the term unquestioned limits the capacity to grasp how these students’ backgrounds and identities shape their decisions and relationships to others and to institutions, and risks reproducing the very inequality that education researchers wish to mitigate. This chapter begins to resolve these conflicts by offering a critical analysis and discussion—grounded by the concept of intersectionality—of the empirical literature on FGSs. We identify and discuss the dominant and problematic manner in which the FGS term has been operationalized in research and discuss the implications of their findings. We end with a discussion on emerging topics that extends the consideration of research on FGSs beyond the imaginary, traditional boundaries of college campuses.
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Title:
Living–Learning Programs and First-Generation College Students’ Academic and Social Transition to College
Author(s):
Inkelas, Karen Kurotsuchi; Daver, Zaneeta E.; Vogt, Kristen E.; Leonard, Jeannie Brown
Publication Year:
2007
Abstract:
This study examines the role of living–learning (L/L) programs in facilitating first-generation students’ perceived academic and social transition to college. Using a sample of 1,335 first-generation students from 33 4-year institutions who participated in the National Study of Living–Learning Programs during Spring 2004, the results of the study show that first-generation students in L/L programs reported a more successful academic and social transition to college than their first-generation counterparts living in a traditional residence hall setting. In addition, interactions with faculty members and using residence hall resources facilitated an easier academic transition for first-generation students in L/L programs, and supportive residence hall climates were related to an easier social transition. A preliminary interpretation of this study’s results is that structured activities, such as faculty interaction and residence hall programming, are more influential for this population than informal peer groups.
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Title:
Moving Beyond Access: College Success For Low-Income, First-Generation Students
Author(s):
Engle, Jennifer; Tinto, Vincent
Publication Year:
2008
Abstract:
With major strides in access to postsecondary education for all students in recent decades, it is tempting to assume that such progress has erased disparities in college enrollment and completion in the United States. Yet despite having one of the highest college participation rates in the world, large gaps persist in terms of access to and success in higher education in this country, particularly for low-income, minority, and first-generation students. Given the pressure to remain competitive in the global knowledge economy, it is in our shared national interest to act now to increase the number of students who not only enter college, but more importantly earn their degrees, particularly bachelor’s degrees. Due to the changing demographics of the United States, we must focus our efforts on improving postsecondary access and success among those populations who have previously been underrepresented in higher education, namely low-income and minority students, many of whom will be the first in their families to go to college. In order to inform the efforts of educators and policymakers to improve college access and success, the Pell Institute has produced a report, funded by the 3M Foundation, that examines the current status of low-income, first-generation college students in higher education. Using data from the U.S. Department of Education datasets, we describe the ways in which this population participates in higher education, including persistence and degree attainment rates, and compare their participation to other students, including those who are neither low-income nor first-generation. We discuss the barriers that low-income, first-generation students face to achieving success in college, as well as the strategies that colleges and universities can pursue to address these barriers and improve students’ chances of earning degrees. We also offer recommendations for institutional and government actions that could go a long way towards closing the access and success gaps that exist today for this doubly-disadvantaged population.
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Title:
Narrating Cultural Citizenship: Oral Histories of First-Generation College Students of Mexican Origin
Author(s):
Benmayor, Rina
Publication Year:
2002
Abstract:
Uses student research to analyze how students in an oral history course negotiate multiple cultures, drawing upon different funds of knowledge. Explains that traditional assessment often stigmatizes bilingual/bicultural students as academically deficient. This course provides space for first-generation students to utilize their lived expertise. The oral histories of first-generation Mexican students highlight a process of turning histories of cultural and economic subordination into empowering integrative spaces. (SM)
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Title:
Navigating New Worlds: A Real-Time Look at How Successful and Non-Successful First-Generation College Students Negotiate Their First Semesters
Author(s):
Morales, Erik E.
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This study of fifteen first generation American college freshmen documents their initial semester with a focus on factors and dispositions contributing to eventual success or failure. Students were identified prior to campus arrival, allowing for immediate and real-time data collection as they were experiencing the beginning of their college careers. Key factors identified and explored include the importance of active help-seeking, effective management of unstructured time, the dangers of underestimating academic rigor, and the crucial nature of the first two weeks. Suggestions for how the findings may be of practical use, as well as further research implications, are included.
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Title:
Navigating the Financial Aid Process: Borrowing Outcomes among First-Generation and Non-First-Generation Students
Author(s):
Furquim, Fernando; Glasener, Kristen M.; Oster, Meghan; McCall, Brian P.; DesJardins, Stephen L.
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
A growing number and proportion of students rely on student loans to assist with the costs of postsecondary education. Yet little is known about how first-generation students use federal loans to finance their education. In this article, we examine each of the decisions that culminate in student indebtedness: the decision to apply for aid, whether to borrow, and how much to borrow. We find significant differences by generational status at each step of the student borrowing process. First-generation students are more likely to apply for financial aid, borrow, and take out larger loans than their peers, after controlling for a rich set of covariates for costs and financial resources. We find that student characteristics cannot fully explain these observed differences in borrowing outcomes across generations.
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Title:
Navigating the pipeline: How socio-cultural influences impact first-generation doctoral students
Author(s):
Holley, Karri A.; Gardner, Susan
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
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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Title:
Negotiating learning and identity in higher education: access, persistence and retention
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
Includes chapter: "Going nowhere slowly?" : a longitudinal perspective on a first-generation woman student's withdrawal from university by Judy Sacks and Rochelle Kapp
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Title:
On the borders of the academy: challenges and strategies for first-generation graduate students and faculty
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
One of the most significant achievements in US higher education during the latter half of the twentieth century was the increasing access enjoyed by historically marginalized populations, including women, people of color, and the poor and working class. With this achievement, however, has come a growing population of first generation students, including first-generation graduate students and faculty members, who struggle at times to navigate unfamiliar territory. This book offers insight into the challenges of first-generation status, as well as practical tools for navigating the halls of the academy for both academics and their institutional allies.
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Title:
Pathways to the Professoriate: The Experiences of First-Generation Latino Undergraduate Students at Hispanic Serving Institutions Applying to Doctoral Programs
Author(s):
Martinez, Andrew
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
Despite representing the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, Latinos remain underrepresented in the professoriate. Although Latinos are increasingly attending college, fewer graduate and even fewer continue to pursue graduate school. Prior research has explained the challenges that first-generation college students encounter in post-secondary contexts. Given that Latino college students are likely to be first-generation, understanding the experiences of first-generation Latino undergraduate students who aspire to be professors and are applying to graduate school can help illuminate what factors help support this underrepresented group in pursuing a career in the academy. Using qualitative approaches, this study describes the experiences of 15 first-generation undergraduate Latino students in a grant-funded academic program that provides them with a plethora of resources to help prepare them for graduate school applications. The findings suggest how early exposure to information about applying to graduate school, access to role models, familial support and understanding of an academic career and having a community of peers with similar ambitions can help cultivate an environment where first-generation, Latino students remain inspired and committed to pursuing graduate school in efforts to become a professor.
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Title:
Peer Mentoring to Support First-Generation Low-Income College Students
Author(s):
Plaskett, Sean; Bali, Diksha; Nakkula, Michael J.; Harris, John
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
Transitioning from high school to college can be a formidable challenge, especially for students who are the first in their family to attend college (first-generation) and/or are from low-income backgrounds. The authors' qualitative investigation of a college mentoring program illuminates the potential value of relatable peer mentors in helping these students get off to a good start.
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Title:
Project MUSE - The Impact of Parents' Education Level on College Students: An Analysis Using the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study 1990-92/94
Author(s):
Hahs-Vaughn, Debbie
Publication Year:
2004
Abstract:
Little is known about first generation students whose parents did not attend college and specifically their experiences surrounding educational outcomes of college. This study used structural equation modeling to investigate differences in first generation and non-first generation students using data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) 90/92/94. This study adds to the body of literature regarding differences in experiences of first generation and non-first generation college students. Factor loadings indicate first generation students differ from non-first generation students on the following: (a) expected highest level of education; (b) entrance exam score; (c) nonacademic experiences; and (d) aspirations for education. Path coefficients indicate College Experiences were a stronger influence on Educational Outcomes for first generation students than were Precollegiate Traits. While for non-first generation students, Precollegiate Traits were a stronger influence on what the student does in college and on what happens four years later. Areas in which institutions can assist in developing curricular and co-curricular experiences are then presented.
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Title:
Promoting inclusion in education abroad: a handbook of research and practice
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
This volume offers a combination of research-based chapters and case studies from leading experts on the barriers that disproportionately impact specific groups of students, including: students with disabilities; first-generation college students; undocumented students; racial and ethnic minorities; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors; and males. The authors illuminate the issues which may inhibit education abroad participation, from individual to institutional, and present strategies reflecting a broad range of institutional contexts, resources, and needs. While there has been significant discussion and action to promote broader inclusion in education abroad, this is the first volume focusing on research and practice to achieve these ends, and is intended as a critical resource for practitioners and scholars alike.
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Title:
Ready, willing, and able: a developmental approach to college access and success
Author(s):
Savitz-Romer, Mandy; Bouffard, Suzanne M.
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
The authors focus on the develomental tasks and competencies that young people need to master in order to plan for and succeed in higher education. These include identity development, articulating aspirations and expectations, forming and maintaining strong peer and adult relationships, motivation and goal setting, and self-regulatory skills, such as planning.
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Title:
Research studies in higher education: educating multicultural college students
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This groundbreaking book edited by Terence Hicks, a quantitative research professor, and Abul Pitre, a qualitative research professor, builds upon the usefulness of each research method and integrates them by providing valuable findings on a diverse group of college students. This book provides the reader with a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research studies surrounding nine chapters on African American, first-generation, undecided, and non-traditional college students. Drawing from major quantitative and qualitative theoretical research frameworks found in multicultural education, Research Studies in Higher Education is a must-read. The chapter authors provide important recommendations for university administrators, faculty, and staff in supporting the academic, personal, and social adjustment of college life for African American, first-generation, undecided, and non-traditional college students. The book contributes greatly to the research literature regarding the role that educational leaders have in educating multicultural college students.
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Title:
Resiliency, Self-Efficacy, and Persistence of College Seniors in Higher Education
Author(s):
Garza, Kristopher K.; Bain, Steve F.; Kupczynski, Lori
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
Institutions of higher learning have struggled to retain incoming freshmen, especially Hispanic students, who historically face greater challenges to succeed. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to investigate the relationship between resiliency, self-efficacy, and persistence of college seniors with an emphasis on first- and continued-generation Hispanic students. An examination of how retention factors have supported Hispanic college seniors was explored through qualitative interviews. Implications of this research provide insight to college, career, school, and community counselors working with prospective Hispanic students. Counselors are likely to address and support the needs of first- and continued-generation Hispanic students while contributing to the improvement of university programs. An emphasis on strategies to increase the number of Hispanic college graduates must include commitment at all levels of campus communities. Such emphasis will be advantageous to college and university counseling centers as they work with this particular population.
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Title:
Special Research Column: Empathetic Genres, Empathetic Spaces, and Mentoring: Examining Contemporary Research on First-Generation College Students in First-Year Writing
Author(s):
Borchert, Jessica Jorgenson
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
This article focuses on contemporary research on first-generation college students bringing to light pedagogical interventions that can be used in the classroom to help engage and retain these students. The pedagogical interventions focus on reflective and personal writing in the classroom, creating safe spaces, and opening up opportunities for mentorship for first-generation college students. Many interventions exist for retaining first-generation college students at the university level, such as TRIO programs, but examining ways to engage these students in the classroom is also a beneficial practice.
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Title:
Still Hungry and Homeless in College
Author(s):
Goldrick-Rab, Sara; Richardson, Jed; Schneider, Joel; Hernandez, Anthony; Cady, Clare
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
This is the largest national survey assessing the basic needs security of university students. It is the HOPE Lab’s 3rd national survey; the other two focused on community colleges. This year we report on 43,000 students at 66 institutions in 20 states and the District of Columbia. That includes over 20,000 students at 35 4-year colleges and universities, as well as students at community colleges. We find: • 36% of university students were food insecure in the 30 days preceding the survey. This year’s estimate for community college students is 42%, but our larger study last year found 56%. • 36% of university students were housing insecure in the last year. Housing insecurity affected 51% of community college students in last year’s study, and 46% in this year’s study. • 9% of university students were homeless in the last year. In comparison, 12% of community college students were homeless in this year’s survey, and 14% in last year’s survey. The data show that basic needs insecurities disproportionately affect marginalized students and are associated with long work hours and higher risk of unemployment. However, the level of academic effort – in and outside the classroom—is the same regardless of whether or not students are dealing with food and housing insecurity. It is therefore critically important to match their commitments with supports to ensure degree completion.
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Title:
Student Growth from Service-Learning: A Comparison of First-Generation and Non-First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Pelco, Lynn E.; Ball, Christopher T.; Lockeman, Kelly S.
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
The effect of service-learning courses on student growth was compared for 321 first-generation and 782 non-first-generation undergraduate students at a large urban university. Student growth encompassed both academic and professional skill development. The majority of students reported significant academic and professional development after participating in a service-learning course, and female students reported similarly high levels of growth regardless of their generational, racial, or financial status. However, for male students, the amount of growth differed significantly as a function of generational, racial, and financial status. Non-first-generation male students from minority and low-income backgrounds reported the least growth, whereas first-generation male students from minority and low-income backgrounds reported the most growth. These findings reveal that first-generation and non-first-generation male students may differ in their responses to service-learning and highlight the importance of utilizing large, diverse samples when conducting quantitative studies to investigate the impact of service-learning on student development.
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Title:
Student–Faculty Interaction in Research Universities: Differences by Student Gender, Race, Social Class, and First-Generation Status
Author(s):
Kim, Young K.; Sax, Linda J.
Publication Year:
2009
Abstract:
This study examined whether the effects of student–faculty interaction on a range of student outcomes—i.e., college GPA, degree aspiration, integration, critical thinking and communication, cultural appreciation and social awareness, and satisfaction with college experience—vary by student gender, race, social class, and first-generation status. The study utilized data on 58,281 students who participated in the 2006 University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES). The findings reveal differences in the frequency of student–faculty interaction across student gender, race, social class and first-generation status, and differences in the effects of student–faculty interaction (i.e., conditional effects) that depended on each of these factors except first-generation status. The findings provide implications for educational practice on how to maximize the educational efficacy of student–faculty interaction by minimizing the gender, race, social class, and first-generation differences associated with it.
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Title:
Studying Attrition and Degree Completion Behavior among First-Generation College Students in the United States
Author(s):
Ishitani, Terry T.
Publication Year:
2006
Abstract:
This study investigated attrition and degree completion behavior of first-generation college students. Based on the findings, first-generation students were at the highest risk of departure during the second year, followed by the first year. These students were also 51% less likely to graduate within 4 years than students with college-educated parents were.
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Title:
Surfacing possibilities: what it means to work with First-generation higher education students
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2013
Abstract:
Surfacing Possibilities offers a case study of an effective education development initiative at a South African university. It focuses on the challenges faced by first generation undergraduate students who come from a diversity of linguistic, social, and cultural backgrounds and have often experienced disadvantage. This new generation of students calls for different directions in teaching, learnings, and support, and we have focused on harnessing student agency rather than working with a deficit model. The varied contributions in this book recognise the need to work at multiple levels throughout the degree and describe the diverse and innovative ways in which these challenges have been addressed.
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Title:
Talking 'Bout My Generation: Defining "First-Generation College Students" in Higher Education Research
Author(s):
Toutkoushian, Robert K.; Stollberg, Robert A.; Slaton, Kelly A.
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
Background/Context: There have been numerous studies conducted in the higher education literature to determine whether parental education is related to the academic plans and success of their children. Within this literature, particular emphasis is often given to children who are "first-generation college students." However, researchers and policy makers have not reached agreement on what constitutes a first-generation college student and whether the definition affects the findings from their studies. Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: In this study, we examined whether the way in which first-generation college status was defined affected its association with the likelihood of a student going to college. We used data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:02), which is a nationally representative longitudinal sample of 10th-grade students in 2002 who were followed up in 2004, 2006, and 2012. Research Design: We used binary and multinomial logistic regression analysis to examine how first-generation college status, as well as other personal, family, and school characteristics, were associated with whether a student took a college entrance exam, applied to college, and enrolled in college. For this study, we constructed eight different definitions of a first-generation college student. The definitions varied with regard to the level of education needed for a parent to be considered "college educated" and the number of parents meeting the education criteria. Conclusions/Recommendations: Our results showed that the connection between first-generation college status and these three outcomes varied depending on how first-generation college status was defined. In general, we found larger deficits for first-generation college students when neither parent was college educated and when college educated was defined as earning a bachelor's degree or higher. First-generation college students faced the largest deficits for enrolling in college, and smaller (but often significant) deficits for taking a college entrance exam and applying to college. The results imply that researchers should be very specific about how they are defining first-generation college status and should determine whether their findings are sensitive to how the variable was defined.
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Title:
Teaching the new library to today's users: reaching international, minority, senior citizens, gay/lesbian, first generation, at-risk, graduate and returning students, and distance learners
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2000
Abstract:
Shows librarians how to address the needs and learning styles of diverse user populations, covering multicultural and gender issues; first-generation college students; at-risk, graduate, and re-entry students; and distance learning.
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Title:
Technology and engagement: making technology work for first generation college students
Author(s):
Rowan-Kenyon, Heather T.; Martínez Alemán, Ana M.; Savitz-Romer, Mandy
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
Technology and Engagement is based on a four-year study of how first generation college students use social media, aimed at improving their transition to and engagement with their university. Through web technology, including social media sites, students were better able to maintain close ties with family and friends from home, as well as engage more with social and academic programs at their university. This 'ecology of transition' was important in keeping the students focused on why they were in college, and helped them become more integrated into the university setting. By showing the gains in campus capital these first-generation college students obtained through social media, the authors offer concrete suggestions for how other universities and college-retention programs can utilize the findings to increase their own retention of first-generation college students
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Title:
Testing Tinto: How Do Retention Theories Work for First-Generation, Working-Class Students? - Rob Longwell-Grice, Hope Longwell-Grice, 2008
Author(s):
Longwell-Grice, Rob; Longwell-Grice, Hope
Publication Year:
2008
Abstract:
This article presents results of a multiple case study involving four first-generation, working-class, white male college freshmen who discuss their perceptions of faculty support. These perceptions are analyzed using Tinto's theories of student retention, specifically as they relate to faculty-student interaction. The study found that first-generation, working-class students are intimidated by the idea of seeking out faculty for support, resulting in a lack of support from their faculty. Since Tinto's theories find a strong link between faculty support and student retention, this study suggests that colleges need to be more strategic and systematic in finding ways to develop faculty-student interactions for first-generation, working-class college students.
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Title:
The Activities, Roles, and Relationships of Successful First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Demetriou, Cynthia; Meece, Judith; Eaker-Rich, Deborah; Powell, Candice
Publication Year:
2017-01-01
Abstract:
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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Title:
The First Ones: Three Studies on First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Longwell-Grice, Rob; Adsitt, Nicole Zervas; Mullins, Kathleen; Serrata, William
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
The findings from 3 qualitative research studies related to first-generation college students show themes of strains in family relationships and lack of practical familial support. One study reveals sources of resiliency and persistence of graduate students; another explores sense of belonging for undergraduates attending 3 types of private institutions; the final study features concerns of Latinos at a 2-year college. Together these studies show that creation of a student identity creates unique challenges for those transitioning into bicultural persons. Advisors who understand students coping with changing family status while attending college can proactively guide them toward the degrees they seek. Furthermore, administrators should provide programs and professional development that help advisors address the complex issues facing first-generation students.
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Title:
The First Year of College: Research, Theory, and Practice on Improving the Student Experience and Increasing Retention
Author(s):
Mulfinger, Evan; Zuo, Chen; Oswald, Frederick L.; Casillas, Alex
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
Includes chapter: First-Generation College Student Success by Evan Mulfinger, Chen Zuo, Frederick L. Oswald, and Alex Casillas
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Title:
The Influence of Multicultural Learning Communities on the Intrapersonal Development of First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Jehangir, Rashné; Williams, Rhiannon; Jeske, Judith
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This longitudinal study of first-generation, low-income students considers the impact of their participation in a multicultural learning community designed to combat the isolation and marginalization they experience at a large Midwestern research university. The study explores the extent to which multicultural curriculum and critical pedagogy create avenues for intrapersonal self-authorship for historically marginalized students in a TRiO program. Findings indicate that intentionally drawing students’ lived experiences into the learning process and scaffolding opportunities to reflect on one’s multiple identities positively impacts development of the intrapersonal dimension of self-authorship.
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Title:
The Integration of First-Year, First-Generation College Students from Ohio Appalachia
Author(s):
Bradbury, Barbara L.; Mather, Peter C.
Publication Year:
2009
Abstract:
First-generation college students comprise a substantial proportion of the entire college student population. Despite the increasing likelihood of college enrollment among students whose parents did not attend college, first-generation students are at higher risk of failure than are their nonfirst-generation peers. Also, residents of the Appalachian region of the United States are less likely to enter and eventually succeed in college than non-Appalachian populations. Using Basic Interpretive Qualitative Research (Merriam, 2004), the researchers examined the academic, social, and interpersonal experiences of nine first-generation, first-year students from Ohio Appalachia at a college that enrolls primarily first-generation students from the Appalachian region. Connections to family, academic success, a sense of belonging, and financial issues were salient issues for these students. The unique campus environment assisted students in their integration and can be instructive for educators working with this population of students in different institutional settings.
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Title:
The Role of Motivation, Parental Support, and Peer Support in the Academic Success of Ethnic Minority First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Dennis, Jessica M.; Phinney, Jean S.; Chuateco, Lizette Ivy
Publication Year:
2005
Abstract:
The role of personal motivational characteristics and environmental social supports in college outcomes was examined in a longitudinal study of 100 ethnic minority first-generation college students. Personal/career-related motivation to attend college in the fall was a positive predictor and lack of peer support was a negative predictor of college adjustment the following spring. Lack of peer support also predicted lower spring GPA.
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Title:
The Role of a Skills Learning Support Program on First-Generation College Students' Self-Regulation, Motivation, and Academic Achievement: A Longitudinal Study
Author(s):
Wibrowski, Connie R.; Matthews, Wendy K.; Kitsantas, Anastasia
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
The purpose of this longitudinal study was to assess the impact of the Skills Learning Support Program (SLSP) aimed to support entering first-generation college students' motivational beliefs, use of self-regulatory strategies, and academic achievement. The study included 137 students from ethnically diverse cultural backgrounds who were in need of academic, counseling, and financial support. In addition, the study gathered academic data on 739 admitted students who did not participate in the program for comparison. The SLSP students were asked to respond to a number of scales assessing their self-regulation and motivational beliefs at the beginning and end of their freshmen year. Comparison academic data were also collected for all students during the next 4 years until graduation. It was hypothesized that students who participated in the SLSP would experience an increase in their academic self-regulation and motivation by the end of the first year. In addition, it was expected that students in the SLSP group would show similar or higher levels of achievement and graduation rates when compared with other freshman students admitted the same year. Findings revealed that students who enrolled in SLSP reported higher levels of motivation and study skills from the pretest to the posttest assessments. In addition, students enrolled in the program exhibited levels of academic achievement similar to or higher than regularly admitted college freshman during their first year and as they approached graduation. However, these differences in the two groups diminished by the time students graduated. These findings may have important implications for instructors, students, and college administrators.
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Title:
The evolving challenges of Black college students : new insights for policy, practice, and research
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2010
Abstract:
Includes chapter: Choosing college as a life or death decision: first-generation African American women's reflections on college choice by Rachele Winkle-Wagner
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Title:
The first-generation student experience: implications for campus practice, and strategies for improving persistence and success
Author(s):
Davis, Jeff
Publication Year:
2010
Abstract:
More first-generation students are attending college than ever before, and policy makers agree that increasing their participation in higher education is a matter of priority. Despite this, there is no agreed definition about the term, few institutions can quantify how many first-generation students are enrolled, or mistakenly conflate them with low-income students, and many important dimensions to the first-generation student experience remain poorly documented. Few institutions have in place a clear, well-articulated practice for assisting first-generation students to succeed. Given that first-generation students comprise over 40% of incoming freshmen, increasing their retention and graduation rates can dramatically increase an institution’s overall retention and graduation rates, and enhance its image and desirability. It is clearly in every institution’s self-interest to ensure its first-generation students succeed, to identify and count them, and understand how to support them. This book provides high-level administrators with a plan of action for deans to create the awareness necessary for meaningful long-term change, sets out a campus acclimation process, and provides guidelines for the necessary support structures. At the heart of the book are 14 first-person narratives – by first-generation students spanning freshman to graduate years – that help the reader get to grips with the variety of ethnic and economic categories to which they belong. The book concludes by defining 14 key issues that institutions need to address, and offers a course of action for addressing them. This book is intended for everyone who serves these students – faculty, academic advisors, counselors, student affairs professionals, admissions officers, and administrators – and offers a set of best practices for how two- and four-year institutions can improve the success of their first-generation student populations.
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Title:
The handbook of practice and research in study abroad: higher education and the quest for global citizenship
Author(s):
Martinez, Maria D.; Ranjeet, Bidya; Marx, Helen A.
Publication Year:
2009
Abstract:
Includes Chapter: Creating study abroad opportunities for first-generation college students by Maria D. Martinez, Bidya Ranjeet, and Helen A. Marx
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Title:
The invisibility factor: administrators and faculty reach out to first-generation college students
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2009
Abstract:
This collective volume fills an important gap in first-generation college student research by simultaneously achieving several important goals. Collectively, the essays represent a balance of personal narrative, qualitative, and quantitative approaches that extend our understanding of the first-generation college student (FGS) experience. The essays review the existing literature on FGS; outline the barriers to college success faced by FGS; update the existing literature by introducing new and cutting-edge first-generation research; and recommend solutions to those in the trenches, who include support staff who design programs to support FGS. The book's contributing authors bring important personal and scholarly expertise to the project. The authors include faculty, administrators, support services personnel, and former students at private liberal arts colleges, major research universities, community colleges, and comprehensive universities in urban and rural settings. The diverse perspectives represented in the essays will benefit administrators and staff working at diverse types of institutions with FGS. In addition, many of the authors were first-generation college students. Socio-economic background profoundly shapes a person's cultural transition into college and heavily determines what barriers to academic success he or she will face. This collection's authors have a keen understanding of the FGS experience having made the transition into a foreign academic culture themselves. The book's essays address the following topics of concern of staff who interact with FGS: - Understanding classism in the academy and class segregation on campus - Race, ethnicity, class, and immigration as they impact FGS' campus experiences - Insight for developing successful first-generation support service programs - FGS' emotional, academic, and cultural adjustment to campus life - The role of support groups in shaping the first-semester FGS college experience - The importance of mentoring in aiding FGS' cultural transition to college - The impact of a FGS' living situation (such as in a campus living-learning center) on academic and cultural transition
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Title:
The working classes and higher education: inequality of access, opportunity and outcome
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
Includes the following chapters: Normative Institutional Arrangements and the Mobility Pathway : How Campus-Level Forces Impact First-Generation Students / Jenny Stuber -- First Generation Female College Students in the Web of the Academy / Carrie Freie -- "You Don't Have To Be a College Graduate to Be Intelligent" : First-Generation Students' Views of Intelligence and Education / Ann Mullen -- Working-Class Youth and the Betrayal of the Future / Jennifer Silva -- A Foot in Two Worlds : First-Generation College Graduates, Academic Success, and Family Relationships / Mari Plikuhn and Matthew Knoester -- Great Expectations : Classed Outcomes of Liberal Arts College Graduates / Allison Hurst.
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Title:
Travels in Extreme Social Mobility: How First-in-Family Students Find Their Way into and through Medical Education
Author(s):
Southgate, Erica; Brosnan, Caragh; Lempp, Heidi; Kelly, Brian; Wright, Sarah; Outram, Sue; Bennett, Anna
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
Higher education is understood as essential to enabling social mobility. Research and policy have centred on access to university, but recently attention has turned to the journey of social mobility itself--and its costs. Long-distance or "extreme" social mobility journeys particularly require analysis. This paper examines journeys of first-in-family university students in the especially high-status degree of medicine, through interviews with 21 students at an Australian medical school. Three themes are discussed: (1) the roots of participants' social mobility journeys; (2) how sociocultural difference is experienced and negotiated within medical school; and (3) how participants think about their professional identities and futures. Students described getting to medical school "the hard way", and emphasised the different backgrounds and attitudes of themselves and their wealthier peers. Many felt like "imposters", using self-deprecating language to highlight their lack of "fit" in the privileged world of medicine. However, such language also reflected resistance to middle-class norms and served to create solidarity with community of origin, and, importantly, patients. Rather than narratives of loss, students' stories reflect a tactical refinement of self and "incorporation" of certain middle-class attributes, alongside an appreciation of the worth their "difference" brings to their new destination, the medical profession.
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Title:
Unseen disadvantage: How American universities' focus on independence undermines the academic performance of first-generation college students
Author(s):
Stephens, Nicole M.; Fryberg, Stephanie A.; Markus, Hazel Rose; Johnson, Camille S.; Covarrubias, Rebecca
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
American universities increasingly admit first-generation college students whose parents do not have 4-year degrees. Once admitted, these students tend to struggle academically, compared with continuing-generation students—students who have at least 1 parent with a 4-year degree. We propose a cultural mismatch theory that identifies 1 important source of this social class achievement gap. Four studies test the hypothesis that first-generation students underperform because interdependent norms from their mostly working-class backgrounds constitute a mismatch with middle-class independent norms prevalent in universities. First, assessing university cultural norms, surveys of university administrators revealed that American universities focus primarily on norms of independence. Second, identifying the hypothesized cultural mismatch, a longitudinal survey revealed that universities' focus on independence does not match first-generation students' relatively interdependent motives for attending college and that this cultural mismatch is associated with lower grades. Finally, 2 experiments at both private and public universities created a match or mismatch for first-generation students and examined the performance consequences. Together these studies revealed that representing the university culture in terms of independence (i.e., paving one's own paths) rendered academic tasks difficult and, thereby, undermined first-generation students' performance. Conversely, representing the university culture in terms of interdependence (i.e., being part of a community) reduced this sense of difficulty and eliminated the performance gap without adverse consequences for continuing-generation students. These studies address the urgent need to recognize cultural obstacles that contribute to the social class achievement gap and to develop interventions to address them.
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Title:
“Those invisible barriers are real”: The Progression of First-Generation Students Through Doctoral Education
Author(s):
Gardner, Susan K.; Holley, Karri A.
Publication Year:
2011
Abstract:
Using the conceptual framework of social capital, this study outlines the experiences of 20 first-generation students currently enrolled in doctoral degree programs. The framework highlights those structures and processes that offer tacit knowledge to students about how to pursue higher education. For students who are the first in their families to attend college, this knowledge is often elusive. Through individual interviews, data were collected to understand student isolation, financial challenges, and sources of support. Implications for institutions are offered.
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Personal Success

Title:
"You're Doing Great. Keep Doing What You're Doing": Socially Supportive Communication during First-Generation College Students' Socialization
Author(s):
Gist-Mackey, Angela N.; Wiley, Marissa L.; Erba, Joseph
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
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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Title:
(No) Harm in Asking: Class, Acquired Cultural Capital, and Academic Engagement at an Elite University
Author(s):
Jack, Anthony Abraham
Publication Year:
2016-01-01
Abstract:
How do undergraduates engage authority figures in college? Existing explanations predict class-based engagement strategies. Using in-depth interviews with 89 undergraduates at an elite university, I show how undergraduates with disparate precollege experiences differ in their orientations toward and strategies for engaging authority figures in college. Middle-class undergraduates report being at ease in interacting with authority figures and are proactive in doing so. Lower-income undergraduates, however, are split. The privileged poor—lower-income undergraduates who attended boarding, day, and preparatory high schools—enter college primed to engage professors and are proactive in doing so. By contrast, the doubly disadvantaged—lower-income undergraduates who remained tied to their home communities and attended local, typically distressed high schools—are more resistant to engaging authority figures in college and tend to withdraw from them. Through documenting the heterogeneity among lower-income undergraduates, I show how static understandings of individuals’ cultural endowments derived solely from family background homogenize the experiences of lower-income undergraduates. In so doing, I shed new light on the cultural underpinnings of education processes in higher education and extend previous analyses of how informal university practices exacerbate class differences among undergraduates.
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Title:
A Community Cultural Wealth Examination of Sources of Support and Challenges among Latino First- and Second-Generation College Students at a Hispanic Serving Institution
Author(s):
Kouyoumdjian, Claudia; Guzmán, Bianca L.; Garcia, Nichole M.; Talavera-Bustillos, Valerie
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
Growth of Latino students in postsecondary education merits an examination of their resources/challenges. A community cultural wealth model provided a framework to examine unacknowledged student resources and challenges. A mixed method approach found that first- and second-generation college students report equal numbers of sources of support/challenges. Understanding student needs can assist with program development to increasing college completion rates.
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Title:
A Difference-Education Intervention Equips First-Generation College Students to Thrive in the Face of Stressful College Situations
Author(s):
Stephens, Nicole M.; Townsend, Sarah S. M.; Hamedani, MarYam G.; Destin, Mesmin; Manzo, Vida
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
A growing social psychological literature reveals that brief interventions can benefit disadvantaged students. We tested a key component of the theoretical assumption that interventions exert long-term effects because they initiate recursive processes. Focusing on how interventions alter students’ responses to specific situations over time, we conducted a follow-up lab study with students who had participated in a difference-education intervention 2 years earlier. In the intervention, students learned how their social-class backgrounds mattered in college. The follow-up study assessed participants’ behavioral and hormonal responses to stressful college situations. We found that difference-education participants discussed their backgrounds in a speech more frequently than control participants did, an indication that they retained the understanding of how their backgrounds mattered. Moreover, among first-generation students (i.e., students whose parents did not have 4-year degrees), those in the difference-education condition showed greater physiological thriving (i.e., anabolic-balance reactivity) than those in the control condition, which suggests that they experienced their working-class backgrounds as a strength.
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Title:
A Meta-Synthesis of Academic and Social Characteristic Studies: First-Generation College Students in STEM Disciplines at HBCUs
Author(s):
Hicks, Terence; Wood, J. Luke
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
Purpose: Given that a relatively large percentage of college students entering historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are first-generation students and considering the low completion rate among this group in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discipline, the purpose of this preliminary meta-synthesis study is intended to facilitate a greater understanding of the academic and social adjustment among college students, particularly first-generation college students enrolled in STEM disciplines at HBCUs. Therefore, this meta-synthesis will shed light and offer important recommendations for university administrators and faculty members in supporting the academic and social adjustment of these students in STEM fields at HBCUs. Design/methodology/approach: This review of literature was conducted using a meta-synthesis approach (also referred to as integrative review). A meta-synthesis is based on a process by which findings across multiple studies are organized and presented (Turner, Gonzalez and Wood, 2008; Wood, 2010). This approach is used to provide insight to academicians and practitioners alike on the status of research on a given phenomenon (Bland, Meurer and Maldonado, 1995; Patterson, Thorne, Canam and Jillings, 2001; Wood, 2010). We engaged in a cyclical process of collecting, annotating, and synthesizing research over a 45-year time-frame (1970 to 2015). This produced over 50 cited resources with more than 100 scholars including peer-reviewed articles, reports, books, book chapters, and conference papers. Findings: Factors present in the literature that affected students enrolled in a STEM program at a HBCU are grouped into three contexts: (a) first-generation academic and social characteristics, (b) first-generation college dropout and transition, and (c) first-generation STEM retention. Tables 2 to 4 provide these contexts by author and year of publication. Within these general groupings, four interrelated themes emerged from the literature: (a) prior academic performance and STEM discipline, (b) college adjustment and STEM discipline, (c) social integration and STEM discipline, and (d) academic integration and STEM discipline. Originality/value: This information may help professors and university professionals in the STEM fields to be more aware of the challenges faced by incoming college students. More empirical work is needed in this area in a way that is useful for understanding and enhancing professors' and university professionals' knowledge. To this end, research that carefully describes what HBCU professors and university professionals know or their ideas about teaching college students, especially first-generation students enrolled in the STEM discipline, is needed.
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Title:
An Examination of High-Achieving First-Generation College Students from Low-Income Backgrounds
Author(s):
Hébert, Thomas P.
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
Experiences of 10 high-achieving first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds were the focus of this qualitative research study. Family adversity and difficult personal experiences during adolescence were major themes; however, students benefitted from emotionally supportive K-12 educators and academic rigor in high school. Sustained family pride helped to keep them focused on reaching their goals, as well as intellectual engagement at the university, and influential mentors. The 10 participants developed a strong sense of purpose at the university and graduated well prepared for careers and graduate school. Implications of the findings are presented along with suggestions for designing effective university experiences for talented first-generation students.
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Title:
An exploration of intersecting identities of first-generation, low-income students
Author(s):
Jehangir, Rashné Rustom
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
In January 2014, the White House urged that college be made more accessible for low-income Americans. Moving beyond access to success, however, requires knowing more about the experiences of these students. This research report captures the challenges low-income, first-generation students face in their collegiate journey, examining the strategies they employ to persist. Organized thematically and using student narrative, the brief report explores the diversity of first-generation students, the intersections of their multiple identities, and their interactions with the institutional agents that affect college success. An Exploration of Intersecting Identities of First-Generation, Low-Income Students also offers practical suggestions for higher education professionals working with this diverse and growing population.
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Title:
Becoming a College Student: An Empirical Phenomenological Analysis of First Generation College Students
Author(s):
Whitehead, Patrick M.; Wright, Robert
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
This article is an empirical phenomenological examination of the perceived security that first generation college students have in their identity as college students. First generation college students (FGCS) have been defined as students whose parents or guardians have not completed a 2- or 4-year postsecondary degree. Previous research (Davis, 2010; Peteet, Montgomery, & Weekes, 2015; Ward, Siegel, & Davenport, 2012) suggests that FGCS have a particularly difficult time finding confidence in their identities as college students, and that this exacerbates the difficulties that they face as students. The imposter phenomenon (IP) is the deep conviction that one is not good enough to deserve the title, responsibility, recognition, or job that one has (Clance, 1985). IP has been tied to FGCS both theoretically (Davis, 2010) and empirically (Peteet et al., 2015). This study examines the experience of overcoming IP by asking seven self-identified FGCS to describe the experience of recognizing their own identities as college students. There is an important difference that could be understood by separating students who experience that their confidence in this identity is authentic and those who do not. When students view college as in service to something greater, we found that they are uniquely impervious to the obstacles college students typically face. The discussion proposes two simple changes that can be made in service to help students navigate this transition in college student identity: the first is a suggestion for student advising and the second involves classroom instruction.
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Title:
Blue-Collar Scholars?: Mediators and Moderators of University Attrition in First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Martinez, Julia A.; Sher, Kenneth J.; Krull, Jennifer L.; Wood, Phillip K.
Publication Year:
2009
Abstract:
Many college entrants’ parents do not have college degrees. These entrants are at high risk for attrition, suggesting it is critical to understand mechanisms of attrition relative to parental education. Moderators and mediators of the effect of parental education on attrition were investigated in 3,290 students over 4 years. Low parental education was a risk for attrition; importantly, college GPAs both moderated and mediated this effect, and ACT scores, scholarships, loans, and full-time work mediated this effect. Drug use, psychological distress, and few reported academic challenges predicted attrition, independent of parental education. These findings might inform interventions to decrease attrition.
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Title:
Breaking Away: A Study of First-Generation College Students and Their Families
Author(s):
London, Howard B.
Publication Year:
1989
Abstract:
Detailed family histories were taken of students who were the first in their families to go to college. This paper utilizes the psychoanalytic and family systems theory of Helm Stierlin and others to explore (1) how college matriculation for first-generation students is linked to multigenerational family dynamics, and (2) how these students reconcile (or do not reconcile) the often conflicting requirements of family membership and educational mobility. The same modernity that creates the possibility of opportunity for these students is seen also to create the potential for biographical and social dislocation.
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Title:
Clearing the path for first generation college students: qualitative and intersectional studies of educational mobility
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
This collection explores social processes and meanings germane to the educational mobility of first-generation college students before and during their matriculation into higher education. The contributing scholars examine dynamics, policies, practices, and programs that inform college access and persistence for first generation students.
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Title:
College aspirations and access in working-class rural communities: the mixed signals, challenges, and new language first-generation students encounter
Author(s):
Ardoin, Sonja
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
College Aspirations and Access in Working Class Rural Communities: The Mixed Signals, Challenges, and New Language First-Generation Students Encounter explores how a working class, rural environment influences rural students’ opportunities to pursue higher education and engage in the college choice process. Based on a case study with accounts from rural high school students and counselors, this book examines how these communities perceive higher education and what challenges arise for both rural students and counselors. The book addresses how college knowledge and university jargon illustrate the gap between rural cultural capital and higher education cultural capital. Insights about approaches to reduce barriers created by college knowledge and university jargon are shared and strategies for offering rural students pathways to learn academic language and navigate higher education are presented for both secondary and higher education institutions.
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Title:
College student self-efficacy research studies
Author(s):
Larde, Pamela
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
Includes chapter: Misconceptions of family support among first-generation African American and Mexican American students by Pamela Larde
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Title:
Cultural capital and first-generation college success
Author(s):
Dumais, Susan A.; Ward, Aaryn
Publication Year:
2010
Abstract:
Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 and the Postsecondary Education Transcript Study, we assess the levels of cultural capital possessed by first-generation college students and their non-first-generation peers. Drawing from past quantitative and qualitative studies, we operationalize cultural capital both as high arts participation rewarded by those in power, and as purposeful interactions with key gatekeepers to access information and resources. In doing so, we aim to highlight the importance of both structure and human agency in cultural capital theory. We analyze the effects cultural capital has on enrollment in and persistence through a four-year postsecondary education and on undergraduate grade point averages (GPA), and determine whether cultural capital has a greater effect on non-first-generation students (the reproduction model), first-generation students (the mobility model), or neither group. We find that family cultural capital, cultural classes, and the number of ways parents helped in the college application process are all significant for four-year college enrollment, and parents’ help and students’ receiving assistance at school with their college applications are significant for graduation. No significant associations are found between the cultural capital variables and GPA. Overall, no support was found for either the reproduction or the mobility models.
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Title:
Culture Shock Revisited: The Social and Cultural Contingencies to Class Marginality
Author(s):
Jack, Anthony Abraham
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
Existing explanations of class marginality predict similar social experiences for all lower-income undergraduates. This article extends this literature by presenting data highlighting the cultural and social contingencies that account for differences in experiences of class marginality. The degree of cultural and social dissimilarity between one's life before and during college helps explain variation in experiences. I contrast the experiences of two groups of lower-income, black undergraduates—the Doubly Disadvantaged and Privileged Poor. Although from comparable disadvantaged households and neighborhoods, they travel along divergent paths to college. Unlike the Doubly Disadvantaged, whose precollege experiences are localized, the Privileged Poor cross social boundaries for school. In college, the Doubly Disadvantaged report negative interactions with peers and professors and adopt isolationist strategies, while the Privileged Poor generally report positive interactions and adopt integrationist strategies. In addition to extending present conceptualizations of class marginality, this study advances our understanding of how and when class and culture matter in stratification processes in college.
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Title:
Decoding the Cost of College; The Case for Transparent Financial Aid Award Letters
Author(s):
Burd, Stephen; Fishman, Rachel; Keane, Laura; Habbert, Julie; Barrett, Ben; Dancy, Kim; Nguyen, Sophie; Williams, Brendan
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
Students and families confront a detrimental lack of information and transparency when paying for college. New America and uAspire, a nonprofit leader on college affordability, analyzed thousands of financial aid award letters and found not only that financial aid is insufficient to cover the cost of college for many students, but also that award letters lack consistency and transparency. As a result, it is exceedingly difficult for students and families to make a financially-informed college decision. While solutions for tackling the cost barrier may be complex, solutions to improve award letter terminology and formatting are well within reach. Through a quantitative analysis of over 11,000 financial aid award letters, we found that students who receive a Pell Grant are still left to cover a significant gap—an average of nearly $12,000. The gap persisted even when students made cost-saving decisions about where to attend (public versus private colleges and universities) or where to live (at home versus on campus). Given that financial aid falls short, clear and consistent communication on award letters is critical. After a thorough qualitative review using a subset of 515 award letters from unique institutions, we emerged with seven key findings: -Confusing Jargon and Terminology: Of the 455 colleges that offered an unsubsidized student loan, we found 136 unique terms for that loan, including 24 that did not include the word “loan.” -Omission of the Complete Cost: Of our 515 letters, more than one-third did not include any cost information with which to contextualize the financial aid offered. -Failure to Differentiate Types of Aid: Seventy percent of letters grouped all aid together and provided no definitions to indicate to students how grants and scholarships, loans, and work-study all differ. -Misleading Packaging of Parent PLUS Loans: Nearly 15 percent of letters included a PLUS loan as an “award,” making the financial aid package appear far more generous than it really was. -Vague Definitions and Poor Placement of Work-Study: Of institutions that offered work-study, 70 percent provided no explanation of work-study and how it differs from other types of aid. -Inconsistent Bottom Line Calculations: In our sample, only 40 percent calculated what students would need to pay, and those 194 institutions had 23 different ways of calculating remaining costs. -No Clear Next Steps: Only about half of letters provided information about what to do to accept or decline awards, and those that did had inconsistent policies. Based on these findings, we present seven policy recommendations, calling on federal, state, and institutional parties to create systems-level change. Federal policymakers should conduct consumer testing, and then set and require award letter standards via federal mandate. State governments should adopt common award letter terms, calculations, and formats across their systems of higher education. Colleges and universities should develop more student-centered financial aid offers and tools, as well as align their efforts with other key departments serving student financial needs.
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Title:
Dirty Dancing with Race and Class: Microaggressions toward First-Generation and Low Income College Students of Color
Author(s):
Sarcedo, Geneva; Matias, Cheryl; Montoya, Roberto; Nishi, Naomi
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
Using a raceclass analysis, which positions race and class as inextricably linked, this reflective and conceptual paper will explore how racialized and classed, or raceclassist, microaggressions impact first-generation and low income college students of color. Utilizing counterstorytelling and theoretical analysis, the first author shares her counterstory as a starting point to understand and analyze the impact raceclassist microaggressions have on racially and economically minoritized students. We consider the implications of raceclassist microaggressions toward first-generation and low income college student of color. We also pose recommendations for addressing raceclassist microaggressions in terms of practice in student affairs and institutions of higher education.
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Title:
Early Experiences and Integration in the Persistence of First-Generation College Students in STEM and Non-STEM Majors
Author(s):
Dika, Sandra L.; D'Amico, Mark M.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
Representation of diverse groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is a persistent concern in the United States. Although there have been some strides toward more diverse representation, significant problems of underrepresentation remain in particular STEM fields: physical sciences, engineering, math, and computer sciences (PEMC). The purpose of this study is to understand the significance of pre-college personal and academic factors along with early college experiences to explain persistence among first-generation college students (FGCS) considering possible differences among PEMC-STEM majors, other-STEM majors, and non-STEM majors. Using institutional and survey data from one 4-year urban research institution in the Southeast, logistic regression models demonstrate the importance of early academic performance (first-semester GPA) to increase odds of FGCS persistence across majors; and also reveal important differences. Besides early academic performance, the only other significant factor for persistence of PEMC-STEM majors was perceived preparation in math. Perceived social fit was significant for persistence for the other-STEM and non-STEM majors, whereas perceived academic fit was only significant for non-STEM majors. These results align generally with previous research, and also suggest that examining differences among STEM subgroups may help develop more nuanced understandings of the needs of different groups.
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Title:
Earning and Learning: Exploring the Meaning of Work in the Experiences of First-Generation Latino College Students
Author(s):
Nuñez, Anne-Marie; Sansone, Vanessa A.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
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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Title:
Effects of Motivation on Educational Attainment: Ethnic and Developmental Differences Among First-Generation Students
Author(s):
Próspero, Moisés; Russell, Amy Catherine; Vohra-Gupta, Shetal
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This study investigated differences in educational motivation among Hispanic and non-Hispanic first-generation students (FGS). Participants were 315 high school and college students who completed a revised academic motivation survey that measured participants’ educational motivation (intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and amotivation). The study found that extrinsic and amotivation were significant predictors of grade point averages (GPAs) among FGS. In addition, high school FGS and Hispanic students were more likely to report higher intrinsic motivation than college FGS and non-Hispanic students. Implications for higher education are discussed.
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Title:
Expanding Access and Opportunity: How Small and Mid-Sized Independent Colleges Serve First-Generation and Low-Income Students
Author(s):
Rine, P. Jesse; Council of Independent Colleges
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
If the United States is to succeed as a nation in reducing educational disparity, restoring social mobility, and retaining national competitiveness, it must make every effort to ensure that low-income and first-generation students have access to higher education and the support systems they need to obtain a college degree. This objective will require understanding the characteristics and challenges unique to low-income and first-generation student populations, as well as the types of educational environments best suited to serve these students. Not only do first-generation and low-income students experience hurdles in accessing higher education, they also tend to be less engaged in their college experience and less likely to persist to degree than other students. With public resources scarce, policy makers and funders must direct support to those institutions that are most effective in admitting, retaining, and graduating first-generation and low-income students. Often overlooked in strategies to promote college attainment of underrepresented students are small and mid-sized independent colleges and universities. This report demonstrates that students of all academic and social backgrounds attend smaller private colleges. Moreover, these institutions provide educational opportunity to students with varying degrees of academic preparation, not just those who have had access to the best high schools and socioeconomic support structures. First-generation and low-income students receive an excellent education at smaller private colleges, which provide a more personalized, rigorous, and engaged college experience than larger public universities provide--and at a fraction of the cost to society. The following are appended: (1) Complete Methodology; and (2) Data Tables.
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Title:
Exploring Home-School Value Conflicts: Implications for Academic Achievement and Well-Being among Latino First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Vasquez-Salgado, Yolanda; Greenfield, Patricia M.; Burgos-Cienfuegos, Rocio
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
U.S. colleges place a high value on the fulfillment of academic obligations by their students. The academic achievement of each individual student is the institutional priority; this is an individualistic frame of reference. However, many Latino first-generation college students have been raised to prioritize family obligations; their home socialization is collectivistic. Our exploratory study investigated how Latino first-generation college students experience home-school value conflict between family obligation and individual academic achievement during their transition to college. A group interview followed the prompt of a conflict scenario that each group member first responded to in writing. The written responses provide evidence of the prioritization of school or home and the conflict that can arise in making these decisions. The group discussions that followed identified multiple types of home-school conflict and provide insights into how these conflicts are experienced. Conflicts revealed by the data included attending family events or visiting parents versus doing academic work, family assistance versus focusing on academics, allocating money for travel to see family versus allocating money for educational expenses. In turn, these home-school value conflicts were experienced both as lasting over time and as playing a negative role in students' academic achievement and sense of well-being.
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Title:
Family involvement: Impacts on postsecondary educational success for first- generation Appalachian college students
Author(s):
Bryan, Elizabeth; Simmons, Leigh Ann
Publication Year:
2009
Abstract:
First-generation college students face a number of barriers to academic success and completion of their degrees. Using Bronfenbrenner's (1989) ecological theory as a framework, qualitative research was used to examine the experiences of 10 first-generation Appalachian Kentucky university students (mean age = 21 years) and factors they attributed to their educational success. Content analysis was used to analyze the data. Seven themes representing participants' experiences in a university setting were identified: (a) close-knit families and communities, (b) separate identities, (c) knowledge of college procedures, (d) pressure to succeed, (e) returning home, (f) the pervasiveness of poverty, and (g) the importance of early intervention programming. Additional areas for research and potential policy adjustments for universities serving this population are presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
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Title:
Finding My Way: Perceptions of Institutional Support and Belonging in Low-Income, First-Generation, First-Year College Students
Author(s):
Means, Darris R.; Pyne, Kimberly B.
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
For this qualitative case study we explored students' perceptions of institutional support and sense of belonging within the college environment. Following 10 low-income, first-generation college students out of a college access program and through their first year of college, we examined institutional support structures that have been reported to increase students' sense of academic and social belonging, including comprehensive scholarship programs, social identity-based centers and student organizations, residence hall communities, faculty relationships, academic support services, and high-impact educational experiences. In spite of the positive and stabilizing potential of these support structures, several of them simultaneously undermined students' sense of belonging.
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Title:
First Generation Students and Post-Undergraduate Aspirations
Author(s):
Carlton, Morgan Teressa
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
Equal access to education is a growing concern throughout the nation. With an increasing amount of programs aimed to support the underrepresented populations on college campuses, first generation college students have grown to be a target population of particular interest. This study examined the relationships between first generation college seniors and applications to graduate or professional programs. The goal of this study was to determine if first generation students are pursuing advanced degrees at lower rates than non-first generation students and if so, attempt to uncover factors contributing to that evidence. Data were gathered from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshman data set, and variables were analyzed using a binary logistic regression. The results of the study indicate that first generation students are significantly less likely to pursue an advanced degree, even when controlling for race, gender, family income, and cumulative grade point average, suggesting a distinctive impact of first generation status on post-undergraduate aspirations. However, after controlling for the impact of self-reported undergraduate loans, the effect of first generation status was no longer significant. The findings in this study provide an important new perspective in the field of sociology.
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Title:
First in my Family: A Profile of First Generation Students at Four-Year Institutions Since 1971
Author(s):
Saenz, Victor B.; Hurtado, Sylvia; Barrera, Doug; Wolf, De'Sha; Yeung, Fanny
Publication Year:
2008
Abstract:
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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Title:
First- Versus Continuing-Generation Adult Students On College Perceptions: Are Differences Actually Because of Demographic Variance?
Author(s):
Giancola, Jennifer Kohler; Munz, David C.; Trares, Shawn
Publication Year:
2008
Abstract:
The profile of students is changing, with an increase in first-generation and adult students. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in college perceptions between first-generation and continuing-generation adult undergraduates while controlling for demographic variables. The study and hypotheses are grounded in the Model of College Outcomes for Adult Students. It was hypothesized that first-generation students would report higher importance and lower satisfaction scores on the following variables: instructional effectiveness, academic advising, registration effectiveness, campus climate, safety and security, academic services, admissions and financial aid effectiveness, and service excellence. The results revealed that sex (more females) accounted for variance between first- and continuing-generation students on importance. There were no differences regarding satisfaction. With a higher number of female adult and first-generation students, higher education should better examine how to meet these students' needs. Recommendations for future research and practical implications are provided.
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Title:
First-Generation College Students and Their Pursuit of the American Dream
Author(s):
Banks-Santilli, Linda
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
First-generation college students, students whose parents have not earned a four-year degree, are not new to higher education, but their increasing presence at private, four-year institutions requires careful attention from administration and faculty. The rising costs of higher education combined with the nation's recent economic decline have made earning a college degree and achieving the American dream nearly impossible for these students. This qualitative research study seeks to understand the lives of first-generation college students at a small, private college in the Northeast. It draws on the analyses of demographic, interview, and case study data to examine the experiences of first-generation students and then to compare them to related research in the fields of sociology, psychology, and college access and preparation. The study results in three distinct case studies that provide insight into the individual lives of first-generation students. It concludes with specific steps this institution can take to respond to the needs of this growing population on its campus. Recommendations, though specific to the case, can be applied to other institutions facing similar challenges.
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Title:
First-Generation Students' Persistence at Four-Year Institutions
Author(s):
Ishitani, Terry T.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
Coupled with the most recent national data set, this study investigated the college persistence behavior of first-generation students and found that they were most likely to withdraw from college during their second year. Moreover, this study unpacked the time-varying nature of academic and social integration. The effect of social integration on persistence was strengthened as students progressed in their college careers, whereas the effect of academic integration was greater in the first two years in college. Findings of the current study assist institutions in identifying unique issues triggering withdrawals at specific periods in college, and systematically incorporating these issues in their retention efforts.
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Title:
First-Generation Undergraduate Students and the Impacts of the First Year of College: Additional Evidence
Author(s):
Padgett, Ryan D.; Johnson, Megan P.; Pascarella, Ernest T.
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
Using longitudinal data from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education, our findings suggest that first-generation students are at a significant disadvantage across cognitive and psychosocial outcomes compared to students whose parents have at least some postsecondary education. Furthermore, we tested for the conditional effects of good practices on first-year outcomes and found that effects of good practices on both cognitive and psychosocial outcomes differed in magnitude, and sometimes in direction, for first-generation versus non-first-generation students.
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Title:
First-Generation and Continuing-Generation College Students: A Comparison of High School and Postsecondary Experiences. Stats in Brief. NCES 2018-009
Author(s):
Redford, Jeremy; Hoyer, Kathleen Mulvaney; National Center for Education Statistics (ED); American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
This Statistics in Brief examines background and educational characteristics, plans for college, postsecondary enrollment, and postsecondary completion patterns of first-generation college students and their peers whose parents have college degrees. The brief also explores how postsecondary plans, attendance, and completion varies between these two groups of students. In addition, the brief presents the reasons why some 2002 high school sophomores who were postsecondary enrollees did not obtain a credential by 2012.
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Title:
First-generation Disadvantage and College Enrollment/Completion
Author(s):
Wilbur, Tabitha G.; Roscigno, Vincent J.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
There are large inequalities in who enrolls in four-year collegiate programs, who finishes, and why. In this article, we draw on several waves of the Educational Longitudinal Study, explore family disadvantages, and uniquely highlight challenges first-generation students face. Family resources, cultural capital, and college-focused parental actions and their consequences for high school achievement explain most of the college attendance disadvantage. Inequalities in college completion, however, are notably also explained by disparate stressors, the need to work, and limited social/curricular integration while in college. We discuss these patterns and what they reveal about inequality and the limitations of contemporary college access.
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Title:
First-generation college students: understanding and improving the experience from recruitment to commencement
Author(s):
Ward, Lee; Siegel, Michael J.; Davenport, Zebulun; Gardner, John
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
First-generation students are frequently marginalized on their campuses, treated with benign disregard, and placed at a competitive disadvantage because of their invisibility. While they include 51% of all undergraduates, or approximately 9.3 million students, they are less likely than their peers to earn degrees. Among students enrolled in two-year institutions, they are significantly less likely to persist into a second year. First-Generation College Students offers academic leaders and student affairs professionals a guide for understanding the special challenges and common barriers these students face and provides the necessary strategies for helping them transition through and graduate from their chosen institutions. Based in solid research, the authors describe best practices and include suggestions and techniques that can help leaders design and implement effective curricula, out-of-class learning experiences, and student support services, as well as develop strategic plans that address issues sure to arise in the future. The authors offer an analysis of first-generation student expectations for college life and academics and examine the powerful role cultural capital plays in shaping their experiences and socialization. Providing a template for other campuses, the book highlights programmatic initiatives at colleges around the county that effectively serve first-generation students and create a powerful learning environment for their success. First-Generation College Students provides a much-needed portrait of the cognitive, developmental, and social factors that affect the college-going experiences and retention rates of this growing population of college students
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Title:
First‐Generation Students' Sense of Belonging, Mental Health, and Use of Counseling Services at Public Research Universities
Author(s):
Stebleton, Michael J.; Soria, Krista M.; Huesman Jr., Ronald L.
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
This study explored 1st‐generation students' sense of belonging, mental health status, and use of mental health services in comparison to non‐1st‐generation students. Using the Student Experience in the Research University multi‐institutional survey, the authors found that 1st‐generation students tended to report lower ratings of belonging, greater levels of depression/stress, and lower use of services compared to non‐1st‐generation students. Implications for college counselors and suggestions for future inquiry are provided.
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Title:
Higher education and first-generation students: cultivating community, voice, and place for the new majority
Author(s):
Jehangir, Rashné Rustom
Publication Year:
2010
Abstract:
Higher Education and First-Generation Students offers a rich understanding of the experience of students who are the first in their families to attend college. Jehangir contends that first-generation students are isolated and marginalized on many large college campuses, and she considers learning communities and critical multicultural pedagogies as vehicles to cultivate community, voice, and place for this growing group of students. This book is a theoretically informed study of the lived experience of FG students and draws on their voices to demonstrate how their insights compare with what we, as educators, think we know about them.
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Title:
Higher education transitions: theory and research
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
Includes chapter: "Cutting rough diamonds" : the transition experiences first generation students in higher education by J. Hope
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Title:
In Search of the Silken Purse: Factors in Attrition among First-Generation Students. Revised
Author(s):
Billson, Janet Mancini; Terry, Margaret Brooks
Publication Year:
1982
Abstract:
The influence of family background, including parental education, on college student attrition was evaluated with first- and second-generation American students. A total of 701 enrolled students and those who left before graduation were surveyed at a primarily residential private liberal arts college and at a primarily commuter state-supported liberal arts college. It was found that first-generation students approach the college experience with about the same degree of normative congruence as second-generation students with regard to their expectations. They value higher education for the intellectual growth and for the career preparation they anticipate receiving. In respect to a second aspect of social integration, structural or affiliational integration, first-generation students were at a disadvantage in comparison to the students whose parents had significant experience with the college or university setting. First-generation students suffer from a lower level of structural integration since they are less likely to live on campus, be involved in campus organizations, meet or pursue their most important friendships on campus, or work on campus. As for academic integration, first-generation students appear to have equally high aspirations regarding level of education they expect to attain, but those who withdraw are not as strongly convinced that college is the only or best route to life success. First-generation students appear to have lower congruity between their values toward education and their parents' values; receive less support of all types from their parents; and have heavier job loads. These factors increase their vulnerability to attrition. A bibliography is appended. (SW)
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Title:
Is the "First-Generation Student" Term Useful for Understanding Inequality? The Role of Intersectionality in Illuminating the Implications of an Accepted--Yet Unchallenged--Term
Author(s):
Nguyen, Thai-Huy; Nguyen, Bach Mai Dolly
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
First-generation students (FGSs) have received a great deal of attention in education research, practice, and policy. The difficulty of understanding and subsequently addressing the various and persistent configurations of inequality associated with FGSs lies with the complicated yet obscure state of the FGS term itself. Leaving the term unquestioned limits the capacity to grasp how these students’ backgrounds and identities shape their decisions and relationships to others and to institutions, and risks reproducing the very inequality that education researchers wish to mitigate. This chapter begins to resolve these conflicts by offering a critical analysis and discussion—grounded by the concept of intersectionality—of the empirical literature on FGSs. We identify and discuss the dominant and problematic manner in which the FGS term has been operationalized in research and discuss the implications of their findings. We end with a discussion on emerging topics that extends the consideration of research on FGSs beyond the imaginary, traditional boundaries of college campuses.
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Title:
Living–Learning Programs and First-Generation College Students’ Academic and Social Transition to College
Author(s):
Inkelas, Karen Kurotsuchi; Daver, Zaneeta E.; Vogt, Kristen E.; Leonard, Jeannie Brown
Publication Year:
2007
Abstract:
This study examines the role of living–learning (L/L) programs in facilitating first-generation students’ perceived academic and social transition to college. Using a sample of 1,335 first-generation students from 33 4-year institutions who participated in the National Study of Living–Learning Programs during Spring 2004, the results of the study show that first-generation students in L/L programs reported a more successful academic and social transition to college than their first-generation counterparts living in a traditional residence hall setting. In addition, interactions with faculty members and using residence hall resources facilitated an easier academic transition for first-generation students in L/L programs, and supportive residence hall climates were related to an easier social transition. A preliminary interpretation of this study’s results is that structured activities, such as faculty interaction and residence hall programming, are more influential for this population than informal peer groups.
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Title:
Narrating Cultural Citizenship: Oral Histories of First-Generation College Students of Mexican Origin
Author(s):
Benmayor, Rina
Publication Year:
2002
Abstract:
Uses student research to analyze how students in an oral history course negotiate multiple cultures, drawing upon different funds of knowledge. Explains that traditional assessment often stigmatizes bilingual/bicultural students as academically deficient. This course provides space for first-generation students to utilize their lived expertise. The oral histories of first-generation Mexican students highlight a process of turning histories of cultural and economic subordination into empowering integrative spaces. (SM)
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Title:
Navigating New Worlds: A Real-Time Look at How Successful and Non-Successful First-Generation College Students Negotiate Their First Semesters
Author(s):
Morales, Erik E.
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This study of fifteen first generation American college freshmen documents their initial semester with a focus on factors and dispositions contributing to eventual success or failure. Students were identified prior to campus arrival, allowing for immediate and real-time data collection as they were experiencing the beginning of their college careers. Key factors identified and explored include the importance of active help-seeking, effective management of unstructured time, the dangers of underestimating academic rigor, and the crucial nature of the first two weeks. Suggestions for how the findings may be of practical use, as well as further research implications, are included.
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Title:
Navigating the Financial Aid Process: Borrowing Outcomes among First-Generation and Non-First-Generation Students
Author(s):
Furquim, Fernando; Glasener, Kristen M.; Oster, Meghan; McCall, Brian P.; DesJardins, Stephen L.
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
A growing number and proportion of students rely on student loans to assist with the costs of postsecondary education. Yet little is known about how first-generation students use federal loans to finance their education. In this article, we examine each of the decisions that culminate in student indebtedness: the decision to apply for aid, whether to borrow, and how much to borrow. We find significant differences by generational status at each step of the student borrowing process. First-generation students are more likely to apply for financial aid, borrow, and take out larger loans than their peers, after controlling for a rich set of covariates for costs and financial resources. We find that student characteristics cannot fully explain these observed differences in borrowing outcomes across generations.
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Title:
Navigating the pipeline: How socio-cultural influences impact first-generation doctoral students
Author(s):
Holley, Karri A.; Gardner, Susan
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
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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Title:
Negotiating learning and identity in higher education: access, persistence and retention
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
Includes chapter: "Going nowhere slowly?" : a longitudinal perspective on a first-generation woman student's withdrawal from university by Judy Sacks and Rochelle Kapp
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Title:
On the borders of the academy: challenges and strategies for first-generation graduate students and faculty
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
One of the most significant achievements in US higher education during the latter half of the twentieth century was the increasing access enjoyed by historically marginalized populations, including women, people of color, and the poor and working class. With this achievement, however, has come a growing population of first generation students, including first-generation graduate students and faculty members, who struggle at times to navigate unfamiliar territory. This book offers insight into the challenges of first-generation status, as well as practical tools for navigating the halls of the academy for both academics and their institutional allies.
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Title:
Peer Mentoring to Support First-Generation Low-Income College Students
Author(s):
Plaskett, Sean; Bali, Diksha; Nakkula, Michael J.; Harris, John
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
Transitioning from high school to college can be a formidable challenge, especially for students who are the first in their family to attend college (first-generation) and/or are from low-income backgrounds. The authors' qualitative investigation of a college mentoring program illuminates the potential value of relatable peer mentors in helping these students get off to a good start.
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Title:
Promoting First-Generation College Students' Mental Well-Being: Student Perceptions of an Academic Enrichment Program
Author(s):
Swanbrow Becker, Martin A.; Schelbe, Lisa; Romano, Kelly; Spinelli, Carmella
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
Academic enrichment programs seek to address the challenges first-generation students face, but research tends to focus on academic outcomes. In this study we investigated first-generation students' perceptions of how a program addresses their mental well-being. A total of 25 undergraduate students who were enrolled in an academic enrichment program participated in focus groups and interviews. A thematic analysis of the focus groups and interviews revealed that students reported the program promoted their mental well-being by helping them to feel cared for, cultivating a sense of belonging, preventing and remediating distress, and helping them become resilient.
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Title:
Ready, willing, and able: a developmental approach to college access and success
Author(s):
Savitz-Romer, Mandy; Bouffard, Suzanne M.
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
The authors focus on the develomental tasks and competencies that young people need to master in order to plan for and succeed in higher education. These include identity development, articulating aspirations and expectations, forming and maintaining strong peer and adult relationships, motivation and goal setting, and self-regulatory skills, such as planning.
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Title:
Research studies in higher education: educating multicultural college students
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This groundbreaking book edited by Terence Hicks, a quantitative research professor, and Abul Pitre, a qualitative research professor, builds upon the usefulness of each research method and integrates them by providing valuable findings on a diverse group of college students. This book provides the reader with a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research studies surrounding nine chapters on African American, first-generation, undecided, and non-traditional college students. Drawing from major quantitative and qualitative theoretical research frameworks found in multicultural education, Research Studies in Higher Education is a must-read. The chapter authors provide important recommendations for university administrators, faculty, and staff in supporting the academic, personal, and social adjustment of college life for African American, first-generation, undecided, and non-traditional college students. The book contributes greatly to the research literature regarding the role that educational leaders have in educating multicultural college students.
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Title:
Resiliency, Self-Efficacy, and Persistence of College Seniors in Higher Education
Author(s):
Garza, Kristopher K.; Bain, Steve F.; Kupczynski, Lori
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
Institutions of higher learning have struggled to retain incoming freshmen, especially Hispanic students, who historically face greater challenges to succeed. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to investigate the relationship between resiliency, self-efficacy, and persistence of college seniors with an emphasis on first- and continued-generation Hispanic students. An examination of how retention factors have supported Hispanic college seniors was explored through qualitative interviews. Implications of this research provide insight to college, career, school, and community counselors working with prospective Hispanic students. Counselors are likely to address and support the needs of first- and continued-generation Hispanic students while contributing to the improvement of university programs. An emphasis on strategies to increase the number of Hispanic college graduates must include commitment at all levels of campus communities. Such emphasis will be advantageous to college and university counseling centers as they work with this particular population.
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Title:
Student–Faculty Interaction in Research Universities: Differences by Student Gender, Race, Social Class, and First-Generation Status
Author(s):
Kim, Young K.; Sax, Linda J.
Publication Year:
2009
Abstract:
This study examined whether the effects of student–faculty interaction on a range of student outcomes—i.e., college GPA, degree aspiration, integration, critical thinking and communication, cultural appreciation and social awareness, and satisfaction with college experience—vary by student gender, race, social class, and first-generation status. The study utilized data on 58,281 students who participated in the 2006 University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES). The findings reveal differences in the frequency of student–faculty interaction across student gender, race, social class and first-generation status, and differences in the effects of student–faculty interaction (i.e., conditional effects) that depended on each of these factors except first-generation status. The findings provide implications for educational practice on how to maximize the educational efficacy of student–faculty interaction by minimizing the gender, race, social class, and first-generation differences associated with it.
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Title:
The Activities, Roles, and Relationships of Successful First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Demetriou, Cynthia; Meece, Judith; Eaker-Rich, Deborah; Powell, Candice
Publication Year:
2017-01-01
Abstract:
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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Title:
The First Ones: Three Studies on First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Longwell-Grice, Rob; Adsitt, Nicole Zervas; Mullins, Kathleen; Serrata, William
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
The findings from 3 qualitative research studies related to first-generation college students show themes of strains in family relationships and lack of practical familial support. One study reveals sources of resiliency and persistence of graduate students; another explores sense of belonging for undergraduates attending 3 types of private institutions; the final study features concerns of Latinos at a 2-year college. Together these studies show that creation of a student identity creates unique challenges for those transitioning into bicultural persons. Advisors who understand students coping with changing family status while attending college can proactively guide them toward the degrees they seek. Furthermore, administrators should provide programs and professional development that help advisors address the complex issues facing first-generation students.
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Title:
The Influence of Multicultural Learning Communities on the Intrapersonal Development of First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Jehangir, Rashné; Williams, Rhiannon; Jeske, Judith
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This longitudinal study of first-generation, low-income students considers the impact of their participation in a multicultural learning community designed to combat the isolation and marginalization they experience at a large Midwestern research university. The study explores the extent to which multicultural curriculum and critical pedagogy create avenues for intrapersonal self-authorship for historically marginalized students in a TRiO program. Findings indicate that intentionally drawing students’ lived experiences into the learning process and scaffolding opportunities to reflect on one’s multiple identities positively impacts development of the intrapersonal dimension of self-authorship.
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Title:
The Integration of First-Year, First-Generation College Students from Ohio Appalachia
Author(s):
Bradbury, Barbara L.; Mather, Peter C.
Publication Year:
2009
Abstract:
First-generation college students comprise a substantial proportion of the entire college student population. Despite the increasing likelihood of college enrollment among students whose parents did not attend college, first-generation students are at higher risk of failure than are their nonfirst-generation peers. Also, residents of the Appalachian region of the United States are less likely to enter and eventually succeed in college than non-Appalachian populations. Using Basic Interpretive Qualitative Research (Merriam, 2004), the researchers examined the academic, social, and interpersonal experiences of nine first-generation, first-year students from Ohio Appalachia at a college that enrolls primarily first-generation students from the Appalachian region. Connections to family, academic success, a sense of belonging, and financial issues were salient issues for these students. The unique campus environment assisted students in their integration and can be instructive for educators working with this population of students in different institutional settings.
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Title:
The Role of High School and College Counselors in Supporting the Psychosocial and Emotional Needs of Latinx First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Tello, Angelica M.; Lonn, Marlise R.
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
Latinx first-generation college students (FGCS) are a growing population faced with unique challenges for college retention and graduation. Because their parents did not attend postsecondary education, this group of college students has not inherited the social or cultural capital common to many traditional college freshmen. Both high school and college counselors are in positions to support the psychosocial and emotional needs of Latinx FGCS, which may increase successful college completion rates. This article provides high school and college counselors with (a) an overview of FGCS' characteristics, (b) information specific to Latinx culture, (c) an understanding of the college experiences of Latinx FGCS, and (d) a discussion of counseling implications for addressing the psychosocial and emotional needs of this population.
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Title:
The Role of Motivation, Parental Support, and Peer Support in the Academic Success of Ethnic Minority First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Dennis, Jessica M.; Phinney, Jean S.; Chuateco, Lizette Ivy
Publication Year:
2005
Abstract:
The role of personal motivational characteristics and environmental social supports in college outcomes was examined in a longitudinal study of 100 ethnic minority first-generation college students. Personal/career-related motivation to attend college in the fall was a positive predictor and lack of peer support was a negative predictor of college adjustment the following spring. Lack of peer support also predicted lower spring GPA.
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Title:
The Role of a Skills Learning Support Program on First-Generation College Students' Self-Regulation, Motivation, and Academic Achievement: A Longitudinal Study
Author(s):
Wibrowski, Connie R.; Matthews, Wendy K.; Kitsantas, Anastasia
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
The purpose of this longitudinal study was to assess the impact of the Skills Learning Support Program (SLSP) aimed to support entering first-generation college students' motivational beliefs, use of self-regulatory strategies, and academic achievement. The study included 137 students from ethnically diverse cultural backgrounds who were in need of academic, counseling, and financial support. In addition, the study gathered academic data on 739 admitted students who did not participate in the program for comparison. The SLSP students were asked to respond to a number of scales assessing their self-regulation and motivational beliefs at the beginning and end of their freshmen year. Comparison academic data were also collected for all students during the next 4 years until graduation. It was hypothesized that students who participated in the SLSP would experience an increase in their academic self-regulation and motivation by the end of the first year. In addition, it was expected that students in the SLSP group would show similar or higher levels of achievement and graduation rates when compared with other freshman students admitted the same year. Findings revealed that students who enrolled in SLSP reported higher levels of motivation and study skills from the pretest to the posttest assessments. In addition, students enrolled in the program exhibited levels of academic achievement similar to or higher than regularly admitted college freshman during their first year and as they approached graduation. However, these differences in the two groups diminished by the time students graduated. These findings may have important implications for instructors, students, and college administrators.
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Title:
The evolving challenges of Black college students : new insights for policy, practice, and research
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2010
Abstract:
Includes chapter: Choosing college as a life or death decision: first-generation African American women's reflections on college choice by Rachele Winkle-Wagner
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Title:
The first-generation student experience: implications for campus practice, and strategies for improving persistence and success
Author(s):
Davis, Jeff
Publication Year:
2010
Abstract:
More first-generation students are attending college than ever before, and policy makers agree that increasing their participation in higher education is a matter of priority. Despite this, there is no agreed definition about the term, few institutions can quantify how many first-generation students are enrolled, or mistakenly conflate them with low-income students, and many important dimensions to the first-generation student experience remain poorly documented. Few institutions have in place a clear, well-articulated practice for assisting first-generation students to succeed. Given that first-generation students comprise over 40% of incoming freshmen, increasing their retention and graduation rates can dramatically increase an institution’s overall retention and graduation rates, and enhance its image and desirability. It is clearly in every institution’s self-interest to ensure its first-generation students succeed, to identify and count them, and understand how to support them. This book provides high-level administrators with a plan of action for deans to create the awareness necessary for meaningful long-term change, sets out a campus acclimation process, and provides guidelines for the necessary support structures. At the heart of the book are 14 first-person narratives – by first-generation students spanning freshman to graduate years – that help the reader get to grips with the variety of ethnic and economic categories to which they belong. The book concludes by defining 14 key issues that institutions need to address, and offers a course of action for addressing them. This book is intended for everyone who serves these students – faculty, academic advisors, counselors, student affairs professionals, admissions officers, and administrators – and offers a set of best practices for how two- and four-year institutions can improve the success of their first-generation student populations.
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Title:
The invisibility factor: administrators and faculty reach out to first-generation college students
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2009
Abstract:
This collective volume fills an important gap in first-generation college student research by simultaneously achieving several important goals. Collectively, the essays represent a balance of personal narrative, qualitative, and quantitative approaches that extend our understanding of the first-generation college student (FGS) experience. The essays review the existing literature on FGS; outline the barriers to college success faced by FGS; update the existing literature by introducing new and cutting-edge first-generation research; and recommend solutions to those in the trenches, who include support staff who design programs to support FGS. The book's contributing authors bring important personal and scholarly expertise to the project. The authors include faculty, administrators, support services personnel, and former students at private liberal arts colleges, major research universities, community colleges, and comprehensive universities in urban and rural settings. The diverse perspectives represented in the essays will benefit administrators and staff working at diverse types of institutions with FGS. In addition, many of the authors were first-generation college students. Socio-economic background profoundly shapes a person's cultural transition into college and heavily determines what barriers to academic success he or she will face. This collection's authors have a keen understanding of the FGS experience having made the transition into a foreign academic culture themselves. The book's essays address the following topics of concern of staff who interact with FGS: - Understanding classism in the academy and class segregation on campus - Race, ethnicity, class, and immigration as they impact FGS' campus experiences - Insight for developing successful first-generation support service programs - FGS' emotional, academic, and cultural adjustment to campus life - The role of support groups in shaping the first-semester FGS college experience - The importance of mentoring in aiding FGS' cultural transition to college - The impact of a FGS' living situation (such as in a campus living-learning center) on academic and cultural transition
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Title:
The working classes and higher education: inequality of access, opportunity and outcome
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
Includes the following chapters: Normative Institutional Arrangements and the Mobility Pathway : How Campus-Level Forces Impact First-Generation Students / Jenny Stuber -- First Generation Female College Students in the Web of the Academy / Carrie Freie -- "You Don't Have To Be a College Graduate to Be Intelligent" : First-Generation Students' Views of Intelligence and Education / Ann Mullen -- Working-Class Youth and the Betrayal of the Future / Jennifer Silva -- A Foot in Two Worlds : First-Generation College Graduates, Academic Success, and Family Relationships / Mari Plikuhn and Matthew Knoester -- Great Expectations : Classed Outcomes of Liberal Arts College Graduates / Allison Hurst.
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Title:
Upwardly Mobile: Attitudes toward the Class Transition among First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Hinz, Serena E.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
First-generation, working-class college students are on the path to upward mobility and may have social and psychological problems related to cultural differences between the working class and the middle class. In her study, Hurst (2007, 2010) reports that students of working-class origin often choose loyalty to one class. However, I revise Hurst's model after finding that, while upwardly mobile students identify more with either the working class or middle class, they can do so without rejecting the other. The findings also indicate that colleges can encourage a healthy class transition by providing support with student organizations, role models, and coursework.
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Title:
“Not Your Typical Student”: The Social Construction of the “First-Generation” College Student
Author(s):
Wildhagen, Tina
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
This study challenges the idea that classifying students as first generation is necessarily empowering or helpful for students. The analysis reveals how one college’s discursive construction of the first-generation category benefits the institution at the expense of the students who are classified as such. Using in-depth interviews with staff and first-generation students, along with observation of events aimed at these students, I analyze the discourse about first-generation college students at a selective college and students’ reactions to that discourse. I argue that power operates through the first-generation category by serving the following institutional interests: (1) helping the school to instill a strong sense of institutional identity within first-generation students and (2) providing first-generation students with a hybrid social class identity that discourages them from developing a critical social class awareness. The analysis reveals an institutional discourse about first-generation students that portrays them as academically deficient and in need of cultural transformation. This discourse discourages students from organizing around social class issues by pushing them along an individualist pathway, which is embedded in the meritocratic ideal of individual achievement and neoliberal discouragement of collective class action.
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Title:
“Those invisible barriers are real”: The Progression of First-Generation Students Through Doctoral Education
Author(s):
Gardner, Susan K.; Holley, Karri A.
Publication Year:
2011
Abstract:
Using the conceptual framework of social capital, this study outlines the experiences of 20 first-generation students currently enrolled in doctoral degree programs. The framework highlights those structures and processes that offer tacit knowledge to students about how to pursue higher education. For students who are the first in their families to attend college, this knowledge is often elusive. Through individual interviews, data were collected to understand student isolation, financial challenges, and sources of support. Implications for institutions are offered.
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Professional Success

Title:
A Comparison of Family Care Responsibilities of First-generation and Non-first-generation Female Administrators in the Academy
Author(s):
Seay, Sandra E.
Publication Year:
2010
Abstract:
Greater numbers of women are entering and working in higher education. Some of these women are the first in their families to attain academic degrees. They are known as first-generation students, and the care of children and others is often responsible for their withdrawal from academic study. This study addressed the void of information concerning the post-baccalaureate work experiences of first-generation women by documenting their presence in higher education administrative positions and by determining that providing care for a greater number of dependent children than their peers remained in the profile of first-generation women who had transitioned from undergraduate students to academic administrators. An online questionnaire was used to examine the responses of 345 women working in North Carolina community colleges, colleges and universities. Of the respondents, 38.8 percent were first-generation; 17.4 percent of the first-generation respondents provided financial support to a parent or other. The data results and a literature review are used to suggest that family-friendly workplace policies including equitable pay for women and health insurance options that allow coverage for elderly parents could assist firstgeneration women who aspire to academic positions within higher education.
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Title:
An Exploration of First-Generation College Students' Career Development Beliefs and Experiences
Author(s):
Tate, Kevin A.; Caperton, William; Kaiser, Dakota; Pruitt, Nathan T.; White, Heather; Hall, Eric
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
First-generation college students (FGCS) represent a large proportion of individuals seeking higher education in the United States; yet this population does not perform as well academically as, and persist to graduation at lower rates than, their peers who have more familial context for the college-going experience. Completing a college degree is clearly tied to employability and mental wellness, which makes FGCS's plight an important issue. Although there is a significant body of research about FGCS's academic performance and experiences, there is little research about this population's beliefs and experiences along their career path. Using an exploratory qualitative approach (Consensual Qualitative Research) and a well-researched model of career development (Social Cognitive Career Theory), we asked 15 FGCS about external influences on, and internal beliefs about, their career development process. Three major domains emerged from the data--"external influences on the career development process", "understanding of the career development process", and "self-concept". These results provide a foundation for future research, as well as implications for practice with this population.
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Title:
An Exploration of First-Generation College Students’ Career Development Beliefs and Experiences
Author(s):
Tate, Kevin A.; Caperton, William; Kaiser, Dakota; Pruitt, Nathan T.; White, Heather; Hall, Eric
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
First-generation college students (FGCS) represent a large proportion of individuals seeking higher education in the United States; yet this population does not perform as well academically as, and persist to graduation at lower rates than, their peers who have more familial context for the college-going experience. Completing a college degree is clearly tied to employability and mental wellness, which makes FGCS’s plight an important issue. Although there is a significant body of research about FGCS’s academic performance and experiences, there is little research about this population’s beliefs and experiences along their career path. Using an exploratory qualitative approach (Consensual Qualitative Research) and a well-researched model of career development (Social Cognitive Career Theory), we asked 15 FGCS about external influences on, and internal beliefs about, their career development process. Three major domains emerged from the data—external influences on the career development process, understanding of the career development process, and self-concept. These results provide a foundation for future research, as well as implications for practice with this population.
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Title:
College aspirations and access in working-class rural communities: the mixed signals, challenges, and new language first-generation students encounter
Author(s):
Ardoin, Sonja
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
College Aspirations and Access in Working Class Rural Communities: The Mixed Signals, Challenges, and New Language First-Generation Students Encounter explores how a working class, rural environment influences rural students’ opportunities to pursue higher education and engage in the college choice process. Based on a case study with accounts from rural high school students and counselors, this book examines how these communities perceive higher education and what challenges arise for both rural students and counselors. The book addresses how college knowledge and university jargon illustrate the gap between rural cultural capital and higher education cultural capital. Insights about approaches to reduce barriers created by college knowledge and university jargon are shared and strategies for offering rural students pathways to learn academic language and navigate higher education are presented for both secondary and higher education institutions.
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Title:
Earning and Learning: Exploring the Meaning of Work in the Experiences of First-Generation Latino College Students
Author(s):
Nuñez, Anne-Marie; Sansone, Vanessa A.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
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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Title:
Envisioning critical race praxis in higher education through counter-storytelling
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
First-Generation, Pretenure Faculty of Color : Navigating the Language of Academia by Anjala Welton, Montrischa Williams, Herb Caldwell, and Melissa Martinez
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Title:
Envisioning equity: educating and graduating low-income, first-generation, and minority college students
Author(s):
Provitera-McGlynn, Angela
Publication Year:
2011
Abstract:
In Envisioning Equity: Educating and Graduating Low-income, First-generation, and Minority College Students, one of the newest releases from Atwood Publishing, veteran educator and professor emeritus Angela Provitera McGlynn makes a compelling case for the vital necessity of improving and expanding the reach of higher education in the United States. She underlines the importance of this task by powerfully illustrating America s distinct slippage in education as compared to other leading countries on the international scene. She also addresses solutions, investigating answers to two crucial questions: What can college professors do to promote academic success? And, what can college administrators and public policy makers do to get more students through the educational pipeline to a college degree? McGlynn argues that America will not reach its goal of educating more young people without graduating more low-income, first-generation to college, and minority college students. Graduating more of this historically underserved population is the right thing to do, both for them as individuals and for our nation as a whole.
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Title:
Examining the Career Decision Self-Efficacy and Career Maturity of Community College and First-Generation Students
Author(s):
Harlow, Alicia J.; Bowman, Sharon L.
Publication Year:
2016
Abstract:
This study examined the career decision self-efficacy (CDSE) and career maturity of 268 first-generation baccalaureate and community college student participants. Three independent variables were analyzed, including generational status (first generation and nonfirst generation), college type (baccalaureate, community college), and socioeconomic status (SES; low, medium, and high). The analysis indicated a significant interaction effect for generation by college type, with both first-generation and nonfirst-generation baccalaureate students reporting lower mean scores than community college students. This analysis also revealed an interaction effect for generation by SES, with first-generation students from high-SES backgrounds reporting the lowest levels of CDSE. A separate analysis using career maturity as the dependent variable indicated a main effect for generation, with first-generation students reporting a lower level of career maturity than nonfirst-generation students. The analysis also revealed a robust main effect for college type, with community college students reporting higher levels of career maturity than baccalaureate students.
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Title:
Facilitating the career development of students in transition
Author(s):
Ayala, Connie; Striplen, Al
Publication Year:
2005
Abstract:
Includes Chapter: First-generation students - understanding the implications for career development by Connie Ayala & Al Striplen
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Title:
First Generation Students and Post-Undergraduate Aspirations
Author(s):
Carlton, Morgan Teressa
Publication Year:
2015
Abstract:
Equal access to education is a growing concern throughout the nation. With an increasing amount of programs aimed to support the underrepresented populations on college campuses, first generation college students have grown to be a target population of particular interest. This study examined the relationships between first generation college seniors and applications to graduate or professional programs. The goal of this study was to determine if first generation students are pursuing advanced degrees at lower rates than non-first generation students and if so, attempt to uncover factors contributing to that evidence. Data were gathered from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshman data set, and variables were analyzed using a binary logistic regression. The results of the study indicate that first generation students are significantly less likely to pursue an advanced degree, even when controlling for race, gender, family income, and cumulative grade point average, suggesting a distinctive impact of first generation status on post-undergraduate aspirations. However, after controlling for the impact of self-reported undergraduate loans, the effect of first generation status was no longer significant. The findings in this study provide an important new perspective in the field of sociology.
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Title:
First in my Family: A Profile of First Generation Students at Four-Year Institutions Since 1971
Author(s):
Saenz, Victor B.; Hurtado, Sylvia; Barrera, Doug; Wolf, De'Sha; Yeung, Fanny
Publication Year:
2008
Abstract:
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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Title:
First-Generation Sociology Majors
Author(s):
Spalter-Roth, Roberta; Senter, Mary S.
Publication Year:
2016-05-01
Abstract:
Compared to peers whose parents graduated from college, first-generation college students have a limited knowledge of campus life, less understanding of college expectations, greater chances of dropping out, and a lower likelihood of graduating within five years. Moreover, first-generation students do not catch up during their college years because they are less likely to develop relationships with faculty and with peers. Given these circumstances, readers should not be surprised that researchers have found that first-generation college students, across majors, were less satisfied with their college experience than their fellow students whose parents have college degrees. But here is the good news! Earlier studies of first-generation students have only told half the story. They have not examined the post-graduate experiences of first-generation students who did not drop out but persisted to graduation. Using the American Sociological Association’s longitudinal survey of sociology majors (funded by the National Science Foundation), we have compared the undergraduate experiences and satisfaction with post-graduate jobs of 911 first generation students with the rest of their sociology major peers
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Title:
First-Generation Students in Higher Education: Issues of Employability in a Knowledge Based Economy
Author(s):
Hirudayaraj, Malar
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This paper explores the issues around the transition of first-generation students in higher education into the knowledge based economy. It discusses how the lack of parental education deprives first-generation students of the cultural capital that is transmitted through the family and how this influences the acquisition of the “soft currencies” that employers expect them to demonstrate in this economy. The article stresses the need for focused research on understanding the problems faced by these students with regard to their employability and actual employment, specifically in the context of mass higher education. It highlights the need for research that could inform policies, systems, programs and funding patterns regarding first-generation students; and influence government and institutions of higher education to look beyond creating access to enabling the transition into the world of work.
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Title:
First-Generation Students: College Access, Persistence, and Postbachelor's Outcomes. Stats in Brief. NCES 2018-421
Author(s):
Cataldi, Emily Forrest; Bennett, Christopher T.; Chen, Xianglei; National Center for Education Statistics (ED); RTI International
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
This Statistics in Brief focuses on students whose parents have not attended college and examines these students' high school success and postsecondary enrollment, persistence and degree completion once they enrolled in college, and graduate school enrollment and employment outcomes after they attained a bachelor's degree. Their outcomes are compared to those of their peers whose parents had attended or completed college. This report draws on data from three nationally representative studies from the National Center for Education Statistics: the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), the 2004/09 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:04/09), and the 2008/12 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/12).
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Title:
First-Generation Students: Undergraduates Whose Parents Never Enrolled in Postsecondary Education
Author(s):
D'Amico, Aurora; Nunez, Anne-Marie; Cuccaro-Alamin, Stephanie; Carroll, C. Dennis
Publication Year:
1998
Abstract:
This report examines the postsecondary experiences of first-generation college students and compares them with those of their counterparts whose parents had education beyond high school. First-generation students were more likely to be enrolled part-time and to attend public 2-year institutions rather than 4-year institutions. They were also less likely to have earned a postsecondary degree within 5 years after enrolling. However, first-generation students who had attained certificates or degrees were employed in similar positions and earned comparable salaries to those of their counterparts whose parents had attended college.
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Title:
Interactions Into Opportunities: Career Management for Low-Income, First-Generation African American College Students
Author(s):
Parks-Yancy, Rochelle
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This study explores how low-income, African American college students obtain social capital resources from university contacts to set and achieve career goals. Students knew little about career options available to future college graduates beyond jobs that were related to their current jobs. Few students utilized the information, influence, and opportunity resources of their university contacts that could increase their career ambitions because they were unaware that informal interactions with these individuals could be helpful. Thus, students had more constrained career plans than they could have had. Strategies to enhance the career expectations of this student population are proposed.
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Title:
Is the "First-Generation Student" Term Useful for Understanding Inequality? The Role of Intersectionality in Illuminating the Implications of an Accepted--Yet Unchallenged--Term
Author(s):
Nguyen, Thai-Huy; Nguyen, Bach Mai Dolly
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
First-generation students (FGSs) have received a great deal of attention in education research, practice, and policy. The difficulty of understanding and subsequently addressing the various and persistent configurations of inequality associated with FGSs lies with the complicated yet obscure state of the FGS term itself. Leaving the term unquestioned limits the capacity to grasp how these students’ backgrounds and identities shape their decisions and relationships to others and to institutions, and risks reproducing the very inequality that education researchers wish to mitigate. This chapter begins to resolve these conflicts by offering a critical analysis and discussion—grounded by the concept of intersectionality—of the empirical literature on FGSs. We identify and discuss the dominant and problematic manner in which the FGS term has been operationalized in research and discuss the implications of their findings. We end with a discussion on emerging topics that extends the consideration of research on FGSs beyond the imaginary, traditional boundaries of college campuses.
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Title:
Navigating the pipeline: How socio-cultural influences impact first-generation doctoral students
Author(s):
Holley, Karri A.; Gardner, Susan
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
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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Title:
On the borders of the academy: challenges and strategies for first-generation graduate students and faculty
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
One of the most significant achievements in US higher education during the latter half of the twentieth century was the increasing access enjoyed by historically marginalized populations, including women, people of color, and the poor and working class. With this achievement, however, has come a growing population of first generation students, including first-generation graduate students and faculty members, who struggle at times to navigate unfamiliar territory. This book offers insight into the challenges of first-generation status, as well as practical tools for navigating the halls of the academy for both academics and their institutional allies.
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Title:
Pathways to the Professoriate: The Experiences of First-Generation Latino Undergraduate Students at Hispanic Serving Institutions Applying to Doctoral Programs
Author(s):
Martinez, Andrew
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
Despite representing the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, Latinos remain underrepresented in the professoriate. Although Latinos are increasingly attending college, fewer graduate and even fewer continue to pursue graduate school. Prior research has explained the challenges that first-generation college students encounter in post-secondary contexts. Given that Latino college students are likely to be first-generation, understanding the experiences of first-generation Latino undergraduate students who aspire to be professors and are applying to graduate school can help illuminate what factors help support this underrepresented group in pursuing a career in the academy. Using qualitative approaches, this study describes the experiences of 15 first-generation undergraduate Latino students in a grant-funded academic program that provides them with a plethora of resources to help prepare them for graduate school applications. The findings suggest how early exposure to information about applying to graduate school, access to role models, familial support and understanding of an academic career and having a community of peers with similar ambitions can help cultivate an environment where first-generation, Latino students remain inspired and committed to pursuing graduate school in efforts to become a professor.
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Title:
Ready, willing, and able: a developmental approach to college access and success
Author(s):
Savitz-Romer, Mandy; Bouffard, Suzanne M.
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
The authors focus on the develomental tasks and competencies that young people need to master in order to plan for and succeed in higher education. These include identity development, articulating aspirations and expectations, forming and maintaining strong peer and adult relationships, motivation and goal setting, and self-regulatory skills, such as planning.
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Title:
Research studies in higher education: educating multicultural college students
Author(s):
Publication Year:
2012
Abstract:
This groundbreaking book edited by Terence Hicks, a quantitative research professor, and Abul Pitre, a qualitative research professor, builds upon the usefulness of each research method and integrates them by providing valuable findings on a diverse group of college students. This book provides the reader with a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research studies surrounding nine chapters on African American, first-generation, undecided, and non-traditional college students. Drawing from major quantitative and qualitative theoretical research frameworks found in multicultural education, Research Studies in Higher Education is a must-read. The chapter authors provide important recommendations for university administrators, faculty, and staff in supporting the academic, personal, and social adjustment of college life for African American, first-generation, undecided, and non-traditional college students. The book contributes greatly to the research literature regarding the role that educational leaders have in educating multicultural college students.
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Title:
Still Hungry and Homeless in College
Author(s):
Goldrick-Rab, Sara; Richardson, Jed; Schneider, Joel; Hernandez, Anthony; Cady, Clare
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
This is the largest national survey assessing the basic needs security of university students. It is the HOPE Lab’s 3rd national survey; the other two focused on community colleges. This year we report on 43,000 students at 66 institutions in 20 states and the District of Columbia. That includes over 20,000 students at 35 4-year colleges and universities, as well as students at community colleges. We find: • 36% of university students were food insecure in the 30 days preceding the survey. This year’s estimate for community college students is 42%, but our larger study last year found 56%. • 36% of university students were housing insecure in the last year. Housing insecurity affected 51% of community college students in last year’s study, and 46% in this year’s study. • 9% of university students were homeless in the last year. In comparison, 12% of community college students were homeless in this year’s survey, and 14% in last year’s survey. The data show that basic needs insecurities disproportionately affect marginalized students and are associated with long work hours and higher risk of unemployment. However, the level of academic effort – in and outside the classroom—is the same regardless of whether or not students are dealing with food and housing insecurity. It is therefore critically important to match their commitments with supports to ensure degree completion.
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Title:
Student Growth from Service-Learning: A Comparison of First-Generation and Non-First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Pelco, Lynn E.; Ball, Christopher T.; Lockeman, Kelly S.
Publication Year:
2014
Abstract:
The effect of service-learning courses on student growth was compared for 321 first-generation and 782 non-first-generation undergraduate students at a large urban university. Student growth encompassed both academic and professional skill development. The majority of students reported significant academic and professional development after participating in a service-learning course, and female students reported similarly high levels of growth regardless of their generational, racial, or financial status. However, for male students, the amount of growth differed significantly as a function of generational, racial, and financial status. Non-first-generation male students from minority and low-income backgrounds reported the least growth, whereas first-generation male students from minority and low-income backgrounds reported the most growth. These findings reveal that first-generation and non-first-generation male students may differ in their responses to service-learning and highlight the importance of utilizing large, diverse samples when conducting quantitative studies to investigate the impact of service-learning on student development.
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Title:
The Relationship between Perceived Career Barriers and Career Decision Self-Efficacy on Initial Career Choice among Low-Income, First Generation, Pre-Freshman, College-Bound Students
Author(s):
Pulliam, Nicole; Ieva, Kara P.; Burlew, Larry
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
This study was an investigation of the predictive value of perceived career barriers and career decision self-efficacy on the certainty of initial career choice among low-income pre-freshman college students, an under-studied college population with respect to career development (Winograd & Shick Tryon, 2009). The moderating effects of certain cultural characteristics (race, gender and college generational status) on the certainty of initial career choice were also examined. A non-experimental correlational research design was utilized, along with a multiple linear regression analysis, to investigate the predictability of perceived career barriers and career decision self-efficacy, directly and as moderated by the cultural characteristics of gender, race and college generational status on the certainty of initial career choice among pre-freshmen low-income, first generation college-bound students.
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Title:
The Role of Motivation, Parental Support, and Peer Support in the Academic Success of Ethnic Minority First-Generation College Students
Author(s):
Dennis, Jessica M.; Phinney, Jean S.; Chuateco, Lizette Ivy
Publication Year:
2005
Abstract:
The role of personal motivational characteristics and environmental social supports in college outcomes was examined in a longitudinal study of 100 ethnic minority first-generation college students. Personal/career-related motivation to attend college in the fall was a positive predictor and lack of peer support was a negative predictor of college adjustment the following spring. Lack of peer support also predicted lower spring GPA.
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Title:
Travels in Extreme Social Mobility: How First-in-Family Students Find Their Way into and through Medical Education
Author(s):
Southgate, Erica; Brosnan, Caragh; Lempp, Heidi; Kelly, Brian; Wright, Sarah; Outram, Sue; Bennett, Anna
Publication Year:
2017
Abstract:
Higher education is understood as essential to enabling social mobility. Research and policy have centred on access to university, but recently attention has turned to the journey of social mobility itself--and its costs. Long-distance or "extreme" social mobility journeys particularly require analysis. This paper examines journeys of first-in-family university students in the especially high-status degree of medicine, through interviews with 21 students at an Australian medical school. Three themes are discussed: (1) the roots of participants' social mobility journeys; (2) how sociocultural difference is experienced and negotiated within medical school; and (3) how participants think about their professional identities and futures. Students described getting to medical school "the hard way", and emphasised the different backgrounds and attitudes of themselves and their wealthier peers. Many felt like "imposters", using self-deprecating language to highlight their lack of "fit" in the privileged world of medicine. However, such language also reflected resistance to middle-class norms and served to create solidarity with community of origin, and, importantly, patients. Rather than narratives of loss, students' stories reflect a tactical refinement of self and "incorporation" of certain middle-class attributes, alongside an appreciation of the worth their "difference" brings to their new destination, the medical profession.
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Title:
Who Gets the Job? First-Generation College Students' Perceptions of Employer Screening Methods
Author(s):
Parks-Yancy, Rochelle; Cooley, Delonia
Publication Year:
2018
Abstract:
What are first-generation college students' (FGCS) perspectives of employment screening methods? The authors investigate which methods FGCS believe are likely to cause an employer to extend a job offer and which methods yield the best pool of job applicants. Survey data were collected from undergraduate business majors. They were analyzed using means comparisons and bivariate correlation "t" tests. FGCS perceived resumes and interviews as most likely to help applicants get hired. Implications are discussed.
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Title:
“Those invisible barriers are real”: The Progression of First-Generation Students Through Doctoral Education
Author(s):
Gardner, Susan K.; Holley, Karri A.
Publication Year:
2011
Abstract:
Using the conceptual framework of social capital, this study outlines the experiences of 20 first-generation students currently enrolled in doctoral degree programs. The framework highlights those structures and processes that offer tacit knowledge to students about how to pursue higher education. For students who are the first in their families to attend college, this knowledge is often elusive. Through individual interviews, data were collected to understand student isolation, financial challenges, and sources of support. Implications for institutions are offered.
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Email Template

Dear Professor [insert name here], 
I am reaching out to you because I am hoping you might be willing to share a copy of your [paper/journalarticle] about [insert topic here].

I am a [first generation student/administrator/staff member/applicable category]. I am affiliated with[institution/workplace] but my [institution/workplace] does not have access to [journal the article/paper was published in] and I cannot afford the cost of purchasing the [article/paper]upfront. I am interested in reading the article because I’m [interested in first generation students/using the article in a research paper/using the article to create an initiative at my institution for first generation students].

I am therefore reaching out in the hopes that you might be willing to share the article with me. In the event that you are, I will not share the article with anyone else other than as cited material without your explicit consent. 

Thank you for your important research about [insert topic here] and for your time and consideration. I hope to hear from you soon. 
Sincerely,
[your name here]

How should you use this template?

You can copy-paste this into an email to the researcher you’re reaching out to. You will first need to find their email. If you can find a link to the paper they’ve published, you can usually find their institutional affiliation and look them up in the institution’s directory. Once you’ve copy-pasted the template, remember to replace the bolded/bracketed text with the right words. Then hit send!  

What’s the worst thing that can happen if I send this email?

The worst thing that can happen is that the researcher will say no or not respond. Don’t take this personally as researchers are often very busy and they may not have time to respond. In some cases, they may simply not want to share their paper in this particular setting. Don’t despair, and consider reaching out to your local librarian at school or in your community.