Should I Stay or Should I Go? Retention in First-Generation College Students

Pratt, 2019 / Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice / May 2019

The current project uses our university’s new student survey to compare previously reported trends in first-generation college student (FGCS) retention with those found on our campus and discusses potential directions for future research and intervention programs. Consistent with previous research, our data showed that financial concerns were a particularly strong predictor of freshman-to-sophomore retention. FGCS reported that they were significantly more concerned about money and expected to maintain employment throughout their college career at higher rates. This emphasis on work reduces the amount of time FGCS engage in college-related activities and hinders their feeling of connection with their peers. For example, our FGCS expected to encounter more difficulty performing well academically, fitting into the campus environment, and making new friends than non-FGCS students. Our future research agenda extends these findings to other aspects of campus life, examining issues such as cultural fit, family ties, and university inclusiveness.