Challenges and Realizations of First-Generation Students Who Navigated through Transfer Momentum Points

Marine Nin & Gutierrez Keeton, 2019 / Community College Journal of Research and Practice / May 2019

why first gen

This qualitative study investigated the challenges experienced by first-generation community college students as they navigated the process of transferring to a four-year university. Participants were from a pool of first-generation students who were in the process of completing steps to transferring. These participants all completed specific transfer momentum points, which indicated that they were on a pathway to transfer. This study amplified the voices of first-generation community college students who were achieving success towards transferring and described the challenges and learning that they experienced in the process. The findings indicated that participants faced several significant challenges throughout their educational journey and met momentum points in a surprising number of ways. Participants struggled with financing their education. They felt isolated. Students experienced numerous setbacks and found it difficult to maintain motivation. In the process of overcoming these challenges, they made important realizations about themselves that were critical to their retention and their ability to continue in momentum toward their transfer goals. These realizations included developing financial awareness, utilizing support systems and campus resources, staying focused and hopeful, and finding their drive. The findings of this study inform community college practices for first-generation college students with a goal of transferring.