First Generation Students in Higher Education

  • Olivia Sanchez


The percentage of first-generation college students

enrolling in universities has been increasing. However, the percentage of first-generation students who continue past the first year is significantly lower than their peers. Past research indicates that low bachelor’s degree attainment rates among first-generation students include difficult transitions to college, financial barriers, and personal relationships. Recent literature confirms a change in educational pathways for many first-generation students. As the cost of education increases, the traditional route of four-year institutions has encountered a more cost-effective pathway offered by two-year community colleges. However, the challenges present in transferring from a two-year community college to a four-year university impact the bachelor’s degree attainment rate for first- generation and transfer students. It is crucial to identify factors contributing to the gap to create policies and services that better support students from marginalized backgrounds.

This study employs logistic regression to compare the educational experiences of first-generation and transfer students at a large public Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) university. I examine the association between first-generation students or transfer students and academic challenges such as academic probation. Findings support most prior research surrounding the academic challenges pertaining to transfer students and their educational experiences in higher education institutions. However, contrary to recent research, this study did not find a significant relationship between first-generation students and likelihood of being on academic probation. Although no significant relationship was observed between first-generation students and having ever been on academic probation, educational policies that further support this student body remain essential.