First-generation students in rural communities: A study of effective programming components that support closing the excellence gap

Gifted and Talented International / June 2020

Large numbers of young people from underserved populations, including first-generation, low-income, and rural, are clearly capable of high levels of achievement but are failing to do so owing to lack of access and opportunities. The purpose of this study was to determine what characteristics of the Health Science Technology Academy (HSTA), a program designed to successfully mediate risk factors for high-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds, were critical to student success. With a specific focus on first-generation and non-first-generation students, results of descriptive statistics, chi-square, and ANOVA indicated first-generation students had slightly higher intentions to attend college and higher initial interest in pursuing a career in health sciences, and they perceived out-of-school experiences, such as field trips, as more influential in increasing their interest in pursuing a career in health sciences than non-first-generation students. Implications and future directions are discussed.