Rowan University

Project Description

First Generation College Students: A Study of How Their Career and Academic Goals Influence Enrollment and Persistence

Project Abstract

While higher education institutions in America were once an easily accessible means to social mobility for the economically disadvantaged, it now serves as an impetus to the ever widening income gap in the United States. For first generation, low income students, it is especially important to obtain higher education because short-term labor market outcomes and average salaries for all college graduates, regardless of previous socioeconomic status, are similar. Because tuition is rising at a higher rate than ever before, access to higher education is becoming severely limited. However, inadequate financing is not the only barrier keeping first-generation, low income students from attending college. Because these students do not have parents who went to college and they grow up in a disadvantaged environment, they are less likely to be knowledgeable about college, motivated to attend, and prepared to attend and persist.

There are many programs sponsored by the government, community, nonprofit organizations, universities, and K-12 schools that are effective in addressing the issues that face first generation students of low socioeconomic status. Although these programs can be successful in helping students enroll and persist in higher education, it is necessary to higher education administrators as well as K-12 administrators to be equally able to address issues of access and persistence in these students.

Career and academic guidance and counseling are services that both K-12 schools and colleges normally provide to their students. First-generation students typically enroll into higher education institutions with the express purpose of acquiring the means to improve their socioeconomic standing and accomplish educational goals. However, they are also less aware of the options regarding career choice and self-assessment. If disadvantaged students are able to develop career and academic goals with the help of education administrators, perhaps they will be more likely to enroll in and persist in higher education.

Surveys released for this project:
Rowan University Student Survey 48
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