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Department

English

Disciplines

English Language and Literature | Linguistics

Abstract

Although first-generation college students (FGCS) have been entering universities in large numbers, and even with past quantitative studies to understand this demographic, a major percentage continue to drop out of college within their first two years. Past research has resulted in an overall picture of this demographic. This qualitative study explores: (1) how FGCS perceive their social identity in relation to a college community, and (2) how interacting with support programs, such as Boise State’s Student Success Program (SSP), shapes their understanding of support. In interviews with nine FGCS students, most of them did not know this first-generation label applied to them, while researchers and support programs assumed they already knew this. It was through a major event, such as failing a test, when students decided to seek help. This led to an encounter with the identity label. Perceptions about this identity label were split between positive and negative reactions. It was only after time and assistance from SSP that participants realized the significance of being an FGCS. This empowered them to continue with their education during times of hardship and/or personal turmoil.

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Faculty Mentor

Dr. Gail Shuck