First in College: A Qualitative Exploration of Experiences of First-Generation Students

Inquiry: The Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges / August 2020

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to investigate first-generation students’ perceptions of how their lived experiences have impacted their academic and non-academic success. The authors utilized focus groups consisting of first-generation students who attended a rural community college and a large, public, metropolitan, research university, and compared their lived experiences. The author's findings confirmed some past research that found that a lack of social capital, academic preparation, financial resources, and family support challenge this population of students in their transition to college. However, some of the results contradict past findings which have concluded that part-time enrollment increases the risk of first-generation student attrition. Most of the findings were consistent between the two groups of participants. Findings related to awareness of the availability of support services differed between the two samples.