Social Class Identity Integration and Success for First-Generation College Students: Antecedents, Mechanisms, and Generalizability

Herrmann et al. / Self and Identity / April 2021

Past research has investigated challenges first-generation college students face, but has overlooked the role that acculturation to college may play. Social class bicultural identity integration research demonstrates that integrated social class identities are linked with better health, well-being, and academic performance among first-generation students. Here, we build on the identity integration framework, demonstrating that exposure to college graduates in students’ home neighborhoods before college is positively related to higher social class bicultural identity integration (Study 1), that the effect of identity integration on academic performance is mediated by academic self-efficacy (Study 2), and that the effects of identity integration on acculturative stress, life satisfaction, and overall health outcomes observed at a large public university replicated at selective, private universities (Study 3). This suggests that the identity integration framework is a useful theoretical lens to conceptualize and predict health and performance outcomes for first-generation students.