First in College: A Qualitative Exploration of Experiences of First-Generation Students

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Inquiry: The Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges






5 (1-32)


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to investigate first-generation students’ perceptions of how their lived experiences have impacted their academic and non-academic success. We utilized focus groups consisting of first-generation students who attended a rural community college and a large, public, metropolitan, research university, and compared their lived experiences. Our findings confirmed some past research that found that a lack of social capital, academic preparation, financial resources, and family support challenge this population of students in their transition to college. However, some of our results contradict past findings which have concluded that part-time enrollment increases the risk of first-generation student attrition. Most of our findings were consistent between the two groups of participants. Findings related to awareness of the availability of support services differed between the two samples.


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Original Publication Citation

Evans, R., Stansberry, D., Bullington, K. E., & Burnett, D. (2020). First in college: A qualitative exploration of experiences of first-generation students. Inquiry: The Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges, 23(1), 1-32, Article 5. https://commons.vccs.edu/inquiry/vol23/iss1/5/


0000-0003-4653-3008 (Bullington)