Kaley Lynn Meyer



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In the context of higher education, students who have parents with postsecondary degrees have an advantage over those who are first in their families to attend college. One of the most commonly discussed challenges for first-generation students is navigating the tension they experience from living lives in two different worlds: life at home and life at college. Interestingly, however, some literature illuminates how the unique challenges first-generation students face often make them more determined, persistent, resilient and prideful in their collegiate endeavors (O'Neal et al., 2016; Strayhorn, 2013). Scholars have discussed these particular characteristics as signs of grit and studies have shown grit to be positively associated with academic achievement (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007; Kannangara, et al., 2018; O’Neal et al., 2016; Strayhorn, 2013). If first-generation students tend to display grit in their educational pursuits, then why are they more likely to drop out of college than their non-first-generation peers (Chen & Carroll, 2005)? This quantitative study is an attempt to dissect this phenomenon to better understand why some first-generation students persist and others succumb to the various challenges they face in postsecondary education. Through utilization of the Grit Scale and the Home and College Tension Scale, this study determines the extent in which perceived tensions between connections to home and college experiences influence grit in first-generation students. With this information, educators and administrators can expand their understanding of the complexities of the first-generation experience and further enhance various supports for this particular population. The findings from this study provide specific implications for future practice and research on first-generation students, grit development and the overlap of the two domains.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Graham F. Hunter

Primary Advisor's Department

Counselor Education


Stander Symposium project, student affairs, School of Education and Health Sciences

The Impact of Home and College Tension on Grit in First-Generation College Students