Testing a critical cultural wealth model of well-being among first-generation students

Duffy, Kim, Gensmer, et al. / Journal of Counseling Psychology / November 2019

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The current study examined predictors of career choice and life satisfaction among a diverse sample of first-generation college students (N = 424). Grounded in the critical cultural wealth model (CCWM; Garriott, 2019), financial stress, sense of belonging, and work volition were found to directly predict life satisfaction and work volition was found to directly predict career choice satisfaction. Additionally, work volition and/or a sense of belonging were found to significantly mediate the relation of financial stress and experiences of discrimination to career choice and life satisfaction. Invariance testing revealed that the model fit equally well for students identifying as a racial/ethnic minority compared with White students, for freshman/sophomores compared with juniors/seniors, and for students who were part of a first-generation scholarship program versus those who were not. Overall, findings suggest that first-generation students’ sense of career choice and life satisfaction is predicted primarily by feelings of work volition and belonging on campus, each of which may be negatively affected by experiencing higher levels of financial stress or discrimination on campus. Implications for research and practice are discussed.