Accessibility to the PhD and Professoriate for FirstGeneration College Graduates: Review and Implications for Students, Faculty, and Campus Policies

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American Federation of Teachers


There are several reasons why it is important to better understand the experiences of first-generation college students and graduates. First, there is evidence that suggests, at least, that opportunity or access to the PhD depends upon the formal education of one’s parents and is not equal. Second, if we agree that diverse student bodies are best served by diverse faculties, it is important for the benefit of students to better understand why equal opportunity to the PhD is lacking. And third, a better understanding of how a diverse faculty and academic staff promotes equality of educational opportunity has value for building popular support for postsecondary education and broader accessibility. In this article, the author reviews illustrative samplings of qualitative and quantitative research concerning the experiences of first-generation college students from the stage of undergraduate admissions through doctoral completion and achievement of tenure.



first-generation college students, graduate education, academic achievement