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Scholarly Research & Articles about First-Gens

Social Class and Belonging: Implications for Graduate Students’ Career Aspirations
We examined the role that social class background plays in graduate students’ career goals. Class background was significantly related to the extent to which students struggled financially in graduate school, which related to their sense of belonging in graduate school. Sense of belonging related to academic self-concept, which predicted students’ interest in becoming professors at “top research universities.”

First-generation college students at a four-year university: background characteristics, reasons for pursuing higher education, and first-year experiences
This study examined the background characteristics of first-generation college students at a four-year university, their reasons for pursuing higher education, and their first-year experiences.

‘‘Is that paper really due today?’’: differences in first-generation and traditional college students’ understandings of faculty expectations
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.

Teaching First Generation Students 

Negotiating Multiple Identities Within Multiple Frames: An Analysis of First-Generation College Students
Abstract: This article draws from narratives, collected from 79 first-generation college (FGC)students across several different campuses, to explore the saliency of FGC student status and the various ways in which it is enacted during interactions with others. Communication theory of identity serves as the study’s theoretic foundation. Multiple points of analysis capture the complex nature of identity negotiation for FGC students. Findings warrant three conclusions: (1) the salience of FGC status in their daily interactions varies considerably among students; (2) FGC status appears to be more important for individuals who also identify as co-cultural group members; and (3) FGC students appear to lack any significant sense of communal identity.

Facing the Culture Shock of College
First-generation college students talk about identity, class, and what helps them succeed.

First In My Family: A Profile of First-Generation College Students at Four-Year Institutions Since 1971
This brief summarizes key findings from the new report, "First in My Family," which shares new insight on entering first-generation college students at four-year institutions over the last thirty-five years. Results are drawn from survey trends data from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey, administered by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.

First-Generation College Students: A Literature Review
Abstract: Research indicates that students whose parents did not attend college are more likely than their non first-generation counterparts to be less academically prepared for college, to have less knowledge of how to apply for college and for financial assistance, and to have more difficulty in acclimating themselves to college once they enroll. They are also more at risk for not completing a degree because they are more likely to delay enrollment after high school, to enroll in postsecondary education parttime, and to work full-time while enrolled. Targeted intervention efforts that reach out to first-generation students both before and during college can help mitigate the differences between first-generation and non first-generation students and can help colleges reach their goal of recruiting and retaining all students.

An Emerging Professional Identity: Influences on the Achievement of High- Ability First-Generation College Females
Abstract: Using a qualitative interview design, this study examined factors contributing to the academic achievement of gifted first-generation college females. Findings indicated an emerging professional identity as the primary influence on achievement. The participants' high ability served as a passport to accessing coursework, extracurricular experiences, and high-achieving friends who helped shape this emerging professional identity. Personal characteristics developed from their working-class backgrounds, including independence and a strong work ethic, were also found to be influential. Finally, the participants expressed a desire to explore their identities, even when this meant forming values different from those of their families and hometown communities. Implications of these findings are discussed, including suggestions for future research and recommendations for parents, counselors, and educators of gifted first-generation college females.

This report uses data from the 1989–90 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:90/94) and the 1993 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:93/94) to examine the postsecondary experiences and outcomes of first-generation students relative to their peers. After an overview of the demographic, aspirational, and enrollment characteristics of firstgeneration and non-first-generation students, the report compares the persistence and attainment rates of each of these two groups. It then examines the labor market and further postsecondary outcomes of these students.

The Importance of Being First: Unique Characteristics of First Generation Community College Students
Abstract: A survey of 5,037 applicants to 12 colleges in the University of Kentucky Community College System revealed that first-generation enrollees came from a unique socioeconomic background, were motivated by a different set of goals, and were constrained by a different set of limitations than those whose parents were college educated (based on chi-square analyses and t tests).

Working-Class Students Lost in a College's Middle-Class Culture
Excerpt: Anyone can see the physical difference between a student of color and a white student. But the subtle differences students possess that also make a student body diverse are not always as palpable. While every minority group- might have its own specialized wants, needs,' 'and concerns, Casey argues, working-class students stand apart from students in all other minority categories, even as they cut across all such categories.'

Putting First-Generation Students First

The Internal Psychology of First-Generation College Students - The Importance and Impact of Personal Relationships
Although some first-generation students will never be able to bring the campus space and the home space into any degree of correspondence, with the passage of time, most will become reasonably comfortable living in the campus space. Managing personal relationships with the people who populate these two discrete spaces, however, it is another matter. For many first-generation college students, home culture relationships can make or break a college career, so it behooves academic advisors and support faculty to know something about the psychology of the students’ home culture relationships and the newer campus culture relationships during the process of advising them.