The Vermont Connection


Valerie Garcia


First-generation college students are students whose parents do not have any postsecondary education (Choy, 2001). These students differ from continuing-generation students in many ways including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and gender. When compared to continuing-generation students, first-generation students face greater challenges in the areas of access to college, persistence throughout college, and attainment of a degree. Research positively links students’ co-curricular involvement with attainment (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991) and persistence (Astin, 1977). Although this positive link has been discovered, there is minimal research that specifically addresses first-generation students and their involvement. This article will discuss characteristics and challenges that first-generation students experience as well as how involvement may result in positive links to their attainment and persistence.