Challenges for first-generation college students.

Typically first-generation students who pursue college degrees undergo enormous transformations as they negotiate the difficult transition into the culture of academia.  In addition to confronting the anxieties, dislocations and difficulties that most college students face, their experiences often involve cultural, social and academic transitions (Rendon, 1996; Pascarella, Wolniak, Pierson & Terenzini, 2004). According to the United States Department of Education, 43% of students attending post-secondary institutions in the United States are first-generation students (Nunez & Cuccaro-Alamin, 1998).  There is a consensus that these numbers will continue to grow as a college degree becomes necessary for more entry-level jobs (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Compared to students with college-educated parents, first-generation college students:

  • receive less assistance in preparing for college
  • feel less supported in attending college
  • lack a sense of belonging to the college they attend (Choy, 2001)
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