Patterns in Bachelor’s Degree Completion among First-Generation Students from Urban, Public K-12 School Districts
This quantitative research study investigated the relationship between the characteristics and experiences of first-generation students from urban, public K-12 school districts and whether they remain on track for completion of a bachelor’s degree within six years of high school graduation. The guiding questions for this study were: 1) How much does an urban, first-generation student’s characteristics and experiences relate to their access to and success in college? 2) Are certain characteristics and experiences more likely to make or break an urban, first-generation student’s success in completing a bachelor’s degree? And 3) How can educators more strategically allocate time, staff, and resources to keep urban, first-generation students on track for attaining their college degree? During the 2016-2017 school year, an online survey was distributed to and shared among individuals who graduated from public school districts in the 100 largest urban areas in the United States between 2005 and 2015. The survey resulted in 177 responses from graduates whose parent(s)/guardian(s) had not attained a bachelor’s degree at the time of their high school graduation. A series of 50 hypotheses based on the characteristics and experiences of the participants were evaluated using a chi-square analysis. Using a 0.05 significance level, a total of 12 characteristics and experiences were found to have a significant relationship with being on track for bachelor’s degree completion. Living on campus, being a person of color or an immigrant, experiencing the death of an immediate family member prior to high school graduation, or participating in college access and success programming indicated a positive, statistically significant relationship with being on track for bachelor’s degree completion for urban, first-generation students. Using marijuana, having dependents prior to age 22, or experiencing sexual abuse prior to high school graduation were found to have a negative, statistically significant relationship with being on track for bachelor’s degree completion for this student demographic. It is the hope of this researcher that the findings in this study will assist current and future educators in focusing their efforts strategically to better meet the needs of first-generation students from urban areas.
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