The following resources discuss some of the unique challenges that first-generation students may face in college. They also provide helpful information and additional context faculty and staff may want to consider when designing programs and initiatives that seek to positively impact all students' college experience.

Recent Articles & Publications

An Annotated Bibliography on First-generation College Students: Research from 2008-2019

Monday, December 6, 2021
"This project is an annotated bibliography of the research from 2008 to 2019 on first-generation students. The purpose of combing through a decade of material was to help us figure out how we got to our current understanding of first-generation students and first-generation college graduates. The authors attempted to answer the question “How did we get here?” and found that, while there has been a flurry of research and practice related to the first-generation student experience, there is so much more we can and should be studying and sharing."
UI students in class

Thriving Because of, Not Despite, Their Identity

Friday, November 6, 2020
"Although many people may try to define them by their disadvantages, students often view being first-generation as a source of influence and power, Marlette Jackson and Ngoc Tran write."
Empty classroom

First-Generation Students Struggle With Finances, Unsafe Environments, Online Learning Amid Pandemic

Friday, August 21, 2020
"The ongoing pandemic caused by the continued prevalence and spread of the novel coronavirus has been especially trying for first-generation college students, with a new survey finding that the cohort was especially vulnerable to experiencing financial hardships, food and housing insecurity, mental health disorders, and obstacles to transitioning to online courses."
College of ed graduate

Moving Up Without Losing Your Way

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
"Author, Jennifer M. Morton, discusses her book about the costs of social mobility in higher education."
Graduate at masters commencement ceremony

The Impact of Parents' Education Levels

Thursday, February 8, 2018
"First-generation college students are less likely to persist and graduate than are children of college-educated parents, a national study finds."

Who Gets to Graduate?

Thursday, May 15, 2014
"When you look at the national statistics on college graduation rates, there are two big trends that stand out right away. The first is that there are a whole lot of students who make it to college — who show up on campus and enroll in classes — but never get their degrees. More than 40 percent of American students who start at four-year colleges haven’t earned a degree after six years."

Selected Journal Articles

Available via the UI Libraries online collections

  • The Activities, Roles, and Relationships of Successful First-Generation College Students (Journal of College Student Development, January 2017
  • First-Generation and Continuing-Generation College Students: A Comparison of High School and Postsecondary Experiences (U.S. Department of Education Stats in Brief, September 2017)
  • Connecting in Class? College Class Size and Inequality in Academic Social Capital (The Journal of Higher Education, October 2016