First-Generation College Students: Understanding and Improving the Experience from Recruitment to Commencement
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More About This Title First-Generation College Students: Understanding and Improving the Experience from Recruitment to Commencement



"…a concise, manageable, lucid summary of the best scholarship, practices, and future-oriented thinking about how to effectively recruit, educate, develop, retain, and ultimately graduate first-generation students."
—from the foreword by JOHN N. GARDNER

First-generation students are frequently marginalized on their campuses, treated with benign disregard, and placed at a competitive disadvantage because of their invisibility. While they include 51% of all undergraduates, or approximately 9.3 million students, they are less likely than their peers to earn degrees. Among students enrolled in two-year institutions, they are significantly less likely to persist into a second year.

First-Generation College Students offers academic leaders and student affairs professionals a guide for understanding the special challenges and common barriers these students face and provides the necessary strategies for helping them transition through and graduate from their chosen institutions. Based in solid research, the authors describe best practices and include suggestions and techniques that can help leaders design and implement effective curricula, out-of-class learning experiences, and student support services, as well as develop strategic plans that address issues sure to arise in the future.

The authors offer an analysis of first-generation student expectations for college life and academics and examine the powerful role cultural capital plays in shaping their experiences and socialization. Providing a template for other campuses, the book highlights programmatic initiatives at colleges around the county that effectively serve first-generation students and create a powerful learning environment for their success.

First-Generation College Students provides a much-needed portrait of the cognitive, developmental, and social factors that affect the college-going experiences and retention rates of this growing population of college students.



LEE WARD is director of Career and Academic Planning at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he founded the Student Learning Institute.

MICHAEL J. SIEGEL is associate professor and director of the administration of higher education program at Suffolk University in Boston, Massa-chusetts. He is a former research fellow at the Policy Center on the First Year of College.

ZEBULUN DAVENPORT is vice chancellor for Student Affairs at Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis.


Foreword vii

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xix

About the Authors xxi

1. Who Are First-Generation Students? 1

2. Transition into College 21

3. Transition Through College 47

4. Class, Culture, Race, and Ethnicity 69

5. Transforming How We Work with First-Generation Students 85

6. A Holistic Approach to Student Success 105

References 129

Index 141