First-Generation College Students
First-generation college student defined
The typical definition of a “first-generation college student” that is used in higher education research is a student who doesn’t have at least one parent or guardian with any college experience. So if the parents went to college and dropped out, their children are not defined as first-generation college students.
First-generation college students
To simplify the information on parents’ highest level of education and more clearly report on first-generation college students, the data for the highest education level for either parent are collapsed into the following categories: “first-generation college students,” “those whose parent(s) had some college,” and students whose “parent(s) have Bachelor’s or higher degrees.”
The responses from all undergraduate respondents indicate that 43.7% are first-generation college students. Post-baccalaureate respondents indicate that 35.9% are first-generation college students.
Hispanic undergraduate respondents indicate that most are first-generation college students (73.1%) compared to 25.8% for African Americans, 35.0% Whites, and 23.3% Asians. Hispanic post-baccalaureate respondents indicate that 68.2% are first-generation college students compared to 36.5% for African Americans, 20.3% for Whites, and 20.8% for Asians in the post-baccalaureate division.
A higher percentage of undergraduate respondents in the College of Education indicate that they are first-generation college students (66.2%) compared to the College of Business and Public Policy (43.6%), College of Arts and Humanities (40.3%), College of Health and Human Services (32.2%), and the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences (38.2%).
There are too few respondents from some of the colleges to make any meaningful analysis for post-baccalaureate respondents broken down by college.
First among siblings to attend college
Out of the undergraduate respondents that have brothers or sisters, 56.9% indicate that they are the first among their siblings to attend college. The responses from post-baccalaureates are very similar (55.9%). When examining the relationship between the first among siblings to attend college and the highest educated parent, it becomes clear that respondents coming from lesser educated parents also have higher frequencies of being the first among their siblings to attend college. The opposite holds true for respondents who have more highly educated parents in that they are less likely to be the first sibling to attend college. Of course this is a somewhat crude measure since it doesn’t account for birth order.