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First-Generation College Persistence: University-Assisted Schools and Their Influence on College Degree Attainment

  • Author(s): Bang, Sarah H.
  • Advisor(s): Christie, Christina
  • et al.

The first-generation student population continues to grow and yet they are still one of the most high-risk populations for college non-persistence. A promising intervention with research-based potential for combating first-generation drop-out rates in college is university-assisted schools. This study examines what first-generation students who attended a university-assisted high school say helped them persist through college. It also investigates potential ways that university-assisted high schools can better support first-generation students to persist in college. Utilizing a qualitative research design, participants were interviewed and their perceptions of experiences were coded and analyzed. This study’s findings point to first-generation students from a university-assisted school creating and relying on networks to persist in college. These networks filled areas that first-generation students generally tend to lack: sense of belonging and social and cultural capital. This study also found that the traditional “deficit” model used to support first-generation students needs reframing and rethinking to change the way high schools and institutes of higher education approach supports for first-generation students.

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