Implications for Diverse College Student Populations
Edited By Donald Jr. Mitchell, Krista M. Soria, Elizabeth A. Daniele and John A. Gipson
Chapter Seven: First-generation College Students’ Leadership Experiences and Academic Outcomes
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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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