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Engaging with Statewide Advocacy for First-generation College Students

Dallas Doane Ph.D., University of Kansas / The Center / June 17, 2024

Resource Guide: First-gen Advocacy

In the United States, 20% of first-generation college students will graduate within 6 years with a baccalaureate degree, despite making up 54% of college attendees overall (RTI International, 2019, 2023). Reasons for this disparity include the variety of challenges institutions create for first-generation college students, such as higher education’s rising cost; increased financial stress; complicated, hidden academy norms; and lower extracurricular-involvement levels (Canning et al., 2020; Laiduc et al., 2021; Means & Pyne, 2017; Pratt et al., 2019; Wilcox et al., 2021). Although institutions create many challenges, first-generation students often have higher levels of resilience and grit—and are therefore better able to handle challenging situations (Bennett et al., 2021; Swanbrow Becker et al., 2017). Numerous ways exist to dismantle these barriers and become a student-ready institution, thus removing the need for first-generation college students to continue to struggle. One avenue to increase support for first-generation college students is through intentional advocacy efforts.