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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Conceptions of a Good College Student, Parent-Student Communication About College, First-Year Grades, and College Retention Among First- and Non-First-Generation College Students

  • Author(s): Palbusa, Julienne Marie Alipio
  • Advisor(s): Gauvain, Mary
  • et al.

This study examined conceptions of a good college student, parent-student communication about college, academic achievement, college student retention, and college generation status among first-year college students. 344 undergraduates described the characteristics and skills of a good college student. In addition, they reported the frequency, perceived helpfulness, and quality (instrumental and emotional support) of parent-student communication about college. Student GPA and second year retention data were obtained from university records. Findings revealed that for the overall sample, the five most important (i.e., highest rated) characteristics and behaviors that a good student should have were time management, getting papers done, doing well on quizzes and exams, studying for quizzes and exams, and writing papers that satisfy professor’s requirements. Results further showed that the number of social skills and self-care behaviors that students used to describe a good college student predicted first year GPA. In addition, there was no significant relation between conceptions of a good college student characteristics and first-to-second year retention. Other findings revealed that first-generation college students (parents did not attend college) did not differ from non-first-generation college students in frequency of communication or perceived emotional support. However, first-generation students had lower GPAs and reported lower perceived helpfulness and quality of parent-adolescent communication. Higher quality of communication about college predicted higher GPAs in the first year in college for non-first-generation college students but not for first-generation students. These findings are discussed with regard to implications for further research and practice in higher education.

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