High Schools and the Development of First-Generation College Students

Client: Research on Higher Education
Faculty: Amy Ellen Schwartz and Peter Teitelbaum
Team: Cathleen Collins, Robyn Margulies, Sara McAlister, Shelley Rappaport, Kelly Whitaker, Stacy Woodruff-Bolte
Year: 2006
In today’s economy, a college degree is more important than ever, yet fewer than half of high school students will go on to postsecondary education. A group at a particular disadvantage is first-generation students – those whose parents did not go to college. Without important firsthand background knowledge, information and motivation from their parents, these students are even less likely to reach college than their peers. Only about one quarter of first-generation students enroll in college. While much previous research has been devoted to factors affecting college attainment and the steps students must take to achieve it, little attention has been given to those variables that schools can control. This study analyzes aspects of guidance and counseling at the school level to determine to what extent the provision of these services affects the likelihood that first-generation students will enroll in college.