Faculty and staff whose research focuses on first generation students in any discipline, or have subset categories of data that identify first generation students are encouraged to contact Paul Thayer to contribute collaboratively with the First Generation Research Group.
The Pell Institute publishes research that relates to equal opportunity for low-income, disabled, and first-generation students.
Analysis of six-year graduation rates at CSU reveals that after accounting for other factors, first generation students have .7 times the odds of graduating in six years as compared to the odds for non-first generation students. Data sets on this from a previous newsletter are provided below.
First generation students are less likely to attend college and to persist to degree completion. Susan Choy (2001) found that nationally, 70.8% of students whose parents had earned a bachelor’s degree enrolled in four-year colleges and universities. For students whose parents had attended some college, the rate declined to 41.6%, and for students whose parents had earned a high school diploma or less the rate was only 26.9%. Parents’ education level matters when it comes to their children’s likelihood of college enrollment.
First generation status makes a significant difference in chance of degree completion as well. Choy (2001) found that first generation students who enrolled in college were about two-and-a-half -times less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree within five years.
As an institution that take its land grant mission seriously, Colorado State University might be expected to attract first generation students. Indeed, about 25% of new freshmen at CSU are first generation. CSU has a history of attending to first generation students. We were among the first institutions in the nation to initiate a First Generation Award Program. Similarly, CSU was also among the first institutions to begin tracking first generation status and success as an important data point.
First generation students are retained to the second year (‘first-year retention rate”) at a rate that is about 5 percentage points lowers than non-first generation students (five-year average). The different in graduation withing six years is about 8 percentage points (five-year average).
One might wonder whether these difference are really but a reflection of some other factor or factors. a logistic regression study (Michael Lacy & Heather Novak, 2010) that included such factors as race/ethnicity, gender, state residency, income (Pell recipient or not), and Index (as proxy for prior academic preparation) showed that even when controlling for all variables in the formula, first generation status stood out as a factor strongly associated with the odds of graduation. (Log odds = 0.7 [p<0.01] as compared to the odds for non-first generation students.) The first generation factor is surprisingly powerful, even controlling for other variables.
Several programs at CSU have shown impressive success in supporting retention and graduation of first generation students. Those successes will be featured in future issues of First Generation University Update.
-First Generation Students at CSU – Paul Thayer – Relevant Information Regarding First Generation Students – 2012