Irlbeck, E., Adams, S., Akers, C., Burris, S., & Jones, S. (2014). First Generation College Students: Motivations and Support Systems. Journal of Agricultural Education, 55(2), 154-166. doi: 10.5032/jae.2014.02154


The number of first generation college students enrolling at universities is on the rise. These students often struggle with the transition into university life because of the lack of knowledge about this new environment. Some do not have support systems that are needed to be successful. Understanding how to assist these college students to improve retention is extremely important. A case study was conducted to determine the motivations and support systems of first generation college students within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) at Texas Tech University (TTU). Nine respondents from different departments in CASNR and one representative of the TTU's first generation college student program were interviewed. It was determined that three factors led to their enrollment: parental/family support, teacher encouragement, and self-motivation. The researchers also found most participants were involved in at least one department/college organization, religious group, or other university program. It was also determined these students depended upon three major support groups and systems, such as parents, friends, and advisers/professors. The researchers concluded the students were very satisfied with their experiences within the college and university as a whole.

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