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Student Involvement & Academic Outcomes

Implications for Diverse College Student Populations

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Edited By Donald Jr. Mitchell, Krista M. Soria, Elizabeth A. Daniele and John A. Gipson

Student Involvement and Academic Outcomes links student involvement to tangible academic outcomes (i.e., GPAs, retention rates, graduation rates). This is particularly important for diverse student populations (e.g., underrepresented minority, first-generation college, and low-income students) who now make up a significant portion (and will soon become the majority) of U.S. college students. The text is a valuable tool for higher education administrators, faculty, staff, graduate students, parents, students, and scholars alike. In addition, the volume is ideal for master’s and doctoral programs in higher education and student affairs-related fields and for courses that examine issues/experiences associated with diverse U.S. college students, student affairs intervention strategies, racial and ethnic diversity in higher education, and critical/contemporary issues in higher education.
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Chapter Seven: First-generation College Students’ Leadership Experiences and Academic Outcomes

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CHAPTER SEVEN

First-generation College Students’ Leadership Experiences AND Academic Outcomes

KRISTA M. SORIA



Scholarly inquiries about first-generation college students—those who are the first in their families to attend higher education in pursuit of a four-year degree—and their experiences in higher education continue to be underrepresented in the literature (Pike & Kuh, 2005). It is encouraging that more and more first-generation college students are enrolling at college campuses across the nation each year (Choy, 2001); yet, persistent concerns about first-generation students’ adjustment, academic engagement, retention, and inclusion in the fabric of campus life (Housel & Harvey, 2009; Jehangir, 2009, 2010; Pascarella, Pierson, Wolniak, & Terenzini, 2004; Pike & Kuh, 2005; Soria & Stebleton, 2012) have led many scholars to critique the system of higher education as one that reproduces existing social-class disparities (Soria, Stebleton, & Huesman, 2013–2014; Stephens, Fryberg, Markus, Johnson, & Covarrubias, 2012). Researchers have demonstrated that first-generation college students have lower grade point averages and greater academic challenges (Soria & Gorny, 2012; Stebleton & Soria, 2012; Terenzini, Cabrera, & Bernal, 2001), are more likely to withdraw from college than students with college-educated parents (Ishitani, 2006), tend to come from backgrounds with fewer financial resources (Horn & Nunez, 2000; Hossler, Schmit, & Vesper, 1990; Soria & Gorny, 2012), and often struggle with the cultural and social norms of higher education (Johnson, Richeson, & Finkel, 2011; Ostrove & Long, 2007; Stephens et al., 2012; Stephens, Townsend, Markus,...

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