An Ex-Post Facto Study of First Generation Students

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Virginia Tech

The degree of access to American higher education has changed over the years. During the 1980s and 1990s, higher education witnessed an increase in the diversity of students while enrollment in higher education reached approximately 14,000,000. With the matriculation of a wider array of students, higher education realized a need to understand these students better.

Researchers began to investigate issues that they considered possible influences on the experiences of students in higher education. Questions were raised as to the roles that gender, race, and socioeconomic status might play in a student's college experience. Comparatively, generational status is one factor that has not been given as much attention by researchers.

The purpose of the present study was to compare a sample of first generation students and non-first generation students who enrolled at the same institution in the same year. The goal was to provide a description of first generation students' demographic characteristics, pre-college behaviors, and values and beliefs.

Data on 3,966 first-year students who completed the Annual Freshman Survey (CIRP) and who enrolled at the selected institution in the fall of 1998 were analyzed. Results revealed significant differences on 64 out of 206 total chi-squares conducted. The majority of significant differences related to issues of money.

Education, Higher, first generation students