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Desire for Higher Education in First-Generation Hispanic College Students Enrolled in an Academic Support Program: A Phenomenological Analysis

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Numerous empirical studies have been conducted to examine first-generation college students, those individuals whose parents have not attended college. Their personality characteristics, cognitive development, academic preparation, and first-year performance have all been topics of research; yet there appears to be little in the literature exploring the motivation of these individuals to seek higher education. There are even fewer studies targeting academic motivation in Hispanic students. The purpose of this study is to conduct a phenomenological examination of the desire to attend college among first generation Hispanic students participating in an academic support program. One-hour taped interviews were conducted with three volunteer participants enrolled in the Student Support Services program at Sul Ross State University. Meaning units and constituents were extracted, and general structures were developed using the Descriptive Phenomenological Method (Giorgi, 1985). The phenomenological analysis resulted in two structures that address the effectiveness of academic outreach programming and identify the roles of self-efficacy, successful experiences in high school, a desire for improved socioeconomic status, a need to contribute to the well-being of others, a break with tradition, and the influence of respected role models in facilitating a desire for higher education in first-generation Hispanic college students.

Affiliations: 1: Saybrook Graduate School


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