Examining Retention and Transfer in Relation to Incoming Student Data for First-Generation and Continuing-Generation Students: What Differences Exist?

Radunzel, 2018 / Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice / November 2018

First-generation (FG) students are generally less likely than their continuing-generation (CG) peers to persist and complete a degree. Using student data available at initial enrollment, this multi-institutional study examines retention and transfer at the second year in relation to academic readiness, financial resources, college intentions, enrollment attributes, and other demographic characteristics to determine whether the predictors and their effects differ between FG and CG students beginning at 4-year institutions. Students’ college intentions and enrollment attributes are included as possible barriers to academic and social integration at the initial institution. The study finds that parental education gaps in outcomes persist even after statistically controlling for incoming student information, and the effects of some predictors differ by parental education. The implications of the findings for early identification of students at risk of leaving their initial institution and for informing retention and transfer strategies that are aimed at equipping FG students for success are discussed.