Examining the Life Experiences of First-Generation Students in Urban 4-Year Institutions Through a Strengths-Based Lens

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First-generation college students are the first in their families to pursue postsecondary education. As a result, they may lack the information and resources to navigate the college process and its transitions. More research is needed on how focusing on first-generation students' strengths can inform programs and support to assist with the postsecondary transition. This study further explores the assets that first-generation students bring to the college experience and how capitalizing on these strengths through programs and support can ease the transition process and help first-generation college students develop a sense of belonging. This qualitative, phenomenological research study was conducted through ten interviews with undergraduate, first-generation college students. The emerging themes were parents and family, peers, professors and staff, and programs and services, which aligned with the literature. This research study had two significant findings: (a) students with older siblings who completed college, extended-generation students viewed themselves differently from traditional first-generation students, and (b) first-generation students felt a sense of belonging and connectedness throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing effects. Suggestions for future research and implications for practice are also discussed.

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  • 03/04/2024
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