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National Statistics
Scholarly Research
News Articles

National Statistics

According to the National Center for Education Statistics: 
- Approximately 32% of undergraduates are first generation college students.
- First generation students are less likely than non first generation students to attend college within eight years after high school.
- First generation students were less prepared academically for college (lower college entrance exam scores, less likely to have taken higher-level mathematics courses in high school and lower senior achievement test scores).
- Approximately 55% of first generation college students and 27% of non-first generation college students took some remedial courses during college.
- First generation students earned an average of 18 credits in their first year, compared with 25 credits earned by students whose parents completed a bachelor's degree or higher.
- First generation students had lower first-year undergraduate GPAs (2.5 vs. 2.8).
- First generation students were more likely than other students to withdraw or repeat courses they attempted. 

(Sources: CIC - First Generation College Students, NCES - First Generation Students in Postsecondary Education)

According to the Pell Institute:
- First generation students are more likely to attend college closer to home, live off-campus, work full-time, and not receive financial help from family to pay for college.
- Before enrolling in college, first generation students have lower educational aspirations and less encouragement and support to attend college. 
- After enrolling in college, first generation students tend to have a harder time navigating the bureaucracies of university systems, less confidence in their academic abilities, are less likely to engage in academic and social experiences associated with success in college (studying in groups, interacting with faculty/students, participating in extracurricular activities, and using support services). 
- 26% of first generation students who enrolled in postsecondary education earned a bachelor's degree within eight years, compared to 68% of students whose parents went to college.

(Source: Pell Institute: Straight from the Source - What works for first generation college students)

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First Generation College Students: Understanding and Improving the Experience from Recruitment to Commencement
Lee Ward, Michael Siegel and Zebulun Davenport
Jossey-Bass, 2012

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Scholarly Research

Examining the Career Decision Self-Efficacy and Career Maturity of Community College and First-Generation Students
Alicia J. Harlow and Sharon L. Bowman
Journal of Career Development, 2016

Attitudes Toward the Class Transition Among First-Generation College Students
Serena E. Hinz
Journal of College Student Development, April 2016

The Effectiveness of a Statewide Articulation Agreement for First-Generation College Students that Transfer from a Mid-Western, Two-Year Institution to a Mid-Western, Four-Year Institution
Julie Fickas
Creighton University, March 4, 2016

Healing the Hidden Injuries of Class? Redemption Narratives, Aspirational Proxies, and Parents of Low-Income, First-Generation College Students
Ashley C. Rondini
Sociological Forum, Article first published online December 24, 2015

Early Experiences and Integration in the Persistence of First-Generation College Students in STEM and non-STEM majors
Sandra L. Dika and Mark M. D'Amico
Journal of Research in Science Training, Article first published online December 22, 2015

To Grab and Hold: Cultivating Communal Goals to Overcome Cultural and Structural Barriers in First-Generation College Students' Science Interest
Jill M. Allen, Gregg A. Muragishi, Jessi L. Smith, Dustin B. Thoman, Elizabeth R. Brown
Translational Issues in Psychological Science, Vol 1(4), Dec 2015, 331-341

A Pyschosocial Model of Success for First-Generation College Students
Shannon Leigh Pothoven
Azusa Pacific University - 2015

First-Generation College Students: A Qualitative Exploration of the Relationship Between Parental Education Level and the Perceptions of Faculty-Student Interaction
Micol Hutchison
Virginia Commonwealth University - 2015

First-Generation Community College Students and Perceived Health and Psychosocial Impediments to Academic Achievement
Deanna McFadden
Western University of Health Sciences - 2015

Caught Up in Red Tape: Bureaucratic Hassles Undermine Sense of Belonging in College Among First Generation Students
Stephanie Lauren Reeves
Thesis, University of Texas at Austin - 2015

Bridging the Support Gap for First Generation College Students with Community Mentor Programs
Leigh Jefferson Griffin, Ph.D.
Louisiana State University - 2015

Counseling First Generation College Students
Jonathan Ricks, MA, NCC, LPCA
American College Counseling Association -  2015

Grit -- First Generation College Students
Terence Hicks, Ph.D., Ed.D.
Selected Words, East Tennessee State Univesrity - 2015

Daring to Dream the Impossible Dream: An Identity-Based Motivation and Goal Setting Intervention for Aspiring First Generation College Students
Erin M. Hearn
Capstone Project, University of Pennsylvania - 2015

Reframing the Definition of First-Generation Students: The Impact of Nonparent Family Influences on the College Aspirations of First-Generation Students
Diane LeGree, Ph.D.
Disstertation, The Claremont Graduate University - 2015

Making Connections: Cultivating Social Capital Among Low-Income First-Generation College Students
Kelly S. Hennessy-Himmelheber
Dissertation, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - 2015

I had to learn that on my own: successful first-generation, low income college students from rural areas at an urban institution
Aaron Phillips
Dissertation, University of Louisville - 2015

Are College Faculty and First-Generation, Low-Income Students Ready for Each Other?
Alfred R. Schademan and Maris R. Thompson
Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice - 2015

First-Generation College Students: Additional Evidence on College Experiences and Outcomes
Ernest T. Pascarella, Christopher T. Pierson, Gregory C. Wolniak and Patrick T. Terenzini
The Journal of Higher Education - Vol. 75, No. 3, May - Jun., 2004

First- and Second-Generation College Students: A Comparison of Their Engagement and Intellectual Development
Gary R. Pike, George D. Kuh
The Journal of Higher Education - Vol. 76, No. 3, May-Jun., 2005

Self-Efficacy of First-Generation and Non-First-Generation College Students: The Relationship With Academic Performance and College Adjustment
Lucila Ramos-Sanchez, Laura Nichols
Journal of College Counseling - Vol. 10, Iss. 1

Formational Turning Points in the Transition to College: Understanding How Communication Events Shape First-Generation Students' Pedagogical and Interpersonal Relationships With Their College Teachers
Tiffany R. Wang 
Communication Education  -  Vol. 63, Iss. 12014

Movin' on up to College: First Generation College Students' Experiences With Family Achievement Guilt
Rebecca Covarrubias and Stephanie A. Fryberg
Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology - 2014


Working Students' Perceptions of Paying for College: Understanding the Connections between Financial Aid and Work

Mary Ziskin, Mary Ann Fischer, Vasti Torres, Beth Pellicciotti, Jacquelyn Player-Sanders

The Review of Higher Education - Vol. 37, No. 4, Summer 2014

The Gap Between Educational Aspirations and Attainment for First-Generation College Students and the Role of Parental Involvement

Graziella Pagliarulo McCarron, Karen Kurotsuchi Inkelas

Journal of College Student Development - Vol 47, No. 5, Sept./Oct. 2006


Defining College Readiness from the Inside Out: First-Generation College Student Perspectives
Kathleen L. Byrd, Ginger Macdonald
Community College Review - Vol. 33, No. 1, Fall 2005


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News Articles


First Generation College Students Need Strong Networks of Support - The Washington Post, May 17, 2016


Any Goal is Achievable With the Support of a Strong Community - Huffington Post, January 18, 2016


10 Strategies for Colleges to Retain and Graduate First-Generation Students - Huffington Post, January 5, 2016


Internship Experience and Networking Paramount for College Graduates - Huffington Post, December 28, 2015

Hungry, Homeless and in College - The New York Times, December 4, 2015


'Make Your Home Among Strangers' and the complexities of first-generation college life - Washington Post, October 2, 2015


How to help first-generation college students thrive in stsressful situations - USC News, September 16, 2015


The Heartbreaking Pysical Toll of High Achievement Among Disadvantaged Teens - Huffington Post, July 21, 2015


Feet on campus, heart at home: first generation college students struggle with divided identities - The Conversation, June 2, 2015


Let's Help First-Generation Students Succeed - Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2015


The Challenge of the First-Generation Student - Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2015


First-Generation Students Unite - New York Times, April 8, 2015


Colleges Share Strategies That Help Disadvantaged Students Succeed - Chronicle of Higher Education, April 24, 2015


Confusing Financial Aid Letters Leave Students, Parents Adrift - NPREd, May 7, 2015


First in the family: First-gen students navigate college obstacles, Brown Daily Herald, April 22, 2015


My Challenges as a First-Generation College Student, Huffington Post, April 20, 2015


First-generation student: 'Don't be afraid to ask for help', Springfield News-Leader, April 2, 2015

Fitting in on Campus: Challeges for First-Generation Students. NPR, February 16, 2015


First-Generation College-Goers: Unprepared and Behind, The Atlantic, December 31, 2014


Encouraging First-Generation College Students, USA Today, October 31, 2013


Colleges try to meet needs of first-generation students, The Boston Globe, September 30, 2015


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