Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Romeo Connors Humanities and Social Science

The Missing Link: The Absent Foundation of Support for First Generation Students Transitioning from High Schools to Four-Year Institutions

According to the Pell Institute, in 2012, only 25% of first-generation students attended four-year institutions. For my research project, I want to examine why this rate is so low. The existing literature focuses primarily on barriers to first-generation students once they attend college. Consequently, I want to examine barriers first generation students face when choosing to attend college in the first place. My research question for this project is: what factors dissuade first-generation students from transitioning from high school to four-year universities and how can high schools support these students in navigating this transition? To answer this question I will be conducting in-depth interviews with first-generation students from high schools and four-year colleges as well as school counselors between two schools of contrasting resources. This project will help me to provide important information on what needs to change to support a cohort of underserved students who are lost in the educational pipeline.

Message To Sponsor

I want to thank my donor so much for an unforgettable experience. My experience in SURF has had an undeniable impact on me as a scholar and a person. SURF gave me my first opportunity as a first-generation student to conduct my own research. Being able to create my own research project forced me to grow academically. I was finally able to put all of the things Iearned in my Sociology courses to use. I was able to see practically how to build a hypothesis from theory, how to move from conceptualization to operationalization, and how to collect my data and analyze it. Not only was I able to connect to the coursework I have learned, I also gained confidence in myself as a student and a scholar. Conducting my own research gave me my own voice as a scholar and an opportunity to contribute something that I created to Sociology and beyond. By talking to other first-generation students and hearing their experiences I have learned that I am not alone and that first-generation students need more help and guidance than they currently receive. Through my research I have become more interested in education and education reform and I am now considering it in my future plans.
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Major: Sociology
Mentor: Mary Kelsey
Sponsor: Anonymous Donor
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