The Impact of First Generation Programs

The Impact of First Generation Programs



Emma L. Sule



First-Generation students are often thrust into the world of academia without a firm foundation of what to expect. Students are left to navigate a world that their parents cannot even guide them through and must begin to navigate academia themselves while also tackling what it means to be an adult. The stress and lack of understanding associated with beginning this journey alone can cause students to lose a crucial part of sense of belonging developed in the early stages of being on campus. Some institutions have chosen to combat this issue by engaging first-generation college students in population specific programming meant to prepare them for college life and intentionally create that sense of belonging. Programming can vary in levels of intensity and learning outcomes may differ, yet often with the purpose to acclimate these students to the university. As more institutions begin to develop these programs while they grow in popularity, one cannot help but wonder the outcome that these programs play on the students involved. How does first-generation specific programming impact current first-generation students’ sense of belonging? Through a mixed methods approach, First-Generation students from Mount St. Joseph University’s First To Go and Graduate program provide data on their personal experiences related to the impact the program has played on their student life. Results demonstrate that First-Generation programs not only impact a student’s sense of belonging but their overall student experience. By providing such programs, institutions are able to better support this unique population of students.

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 First Generation Programs