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A Guide to the Research: Recruiting / Preparation

Presents research literature and other sources of information about first generation college students, focusing on four-year undergraduate and graduate school experiences.

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* ACT, Inc., Family Firsts: Reach for Your Dreams, 2007. 16 pp.
This booklet is designed to help potential first-generation college students think about and plan for college. It provides helpful information on the following topics: (1) reasons to go to college; (2) what it takes to get into college; (3) who can help with the planning and admissions process; (4) how to choose a college and succeed once there; and (5) where to find the money. Includes testimonials from first-generation college students, a list of helpful resources, a timeline for college planning, a college comparison worksheet, and a glossary of key terms.

* Amaro-Jimenez, Carla and Holly Hungerford-Kresser, "Implementing an Additive, College Access and Readiness Program for Latina/o High School Students in the U.S.," Current Issues in Education, Vol. 16, issue 3 (September 18, 2013), pp. 1-13.
Draws on the experiences of a diverse group of 34 first-generation college students, collected over a year, who served as peer mentors to minority and Latina/o high school students enrolled in four Title I (low-income) high schools in the Southwest U.S. The article identifies the successes and challenges of implementing an additive, college access and readiness program that aimed to not only reduce their dropout rates but to increase the number of traditionally underserved minority and Latina/o high school students seeking a post-secondary education.

* Ashburn, Elyse. After the Deluge, the Drought? The Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 54, issue 34 (May 2 2008), pp. B5-6.
Part of a special section on college admissions and student aid. A Chronicle of Higher Education survey has explored college admissions offices' preparation for a shrinking pool of traditional applicants. Survey results showed that about 88 percent of admissions offices have a plan or are developing a plan to address demographic changes, which are likely to involve a decline in the number of white graduates and an increase in the proportion of first-generation college graduates.

* Borrero, Noah,  "Shared Success: Voices of First-Generation College-Bound Latino/as Multicultural Education, vol. 18, issue 4 (Sum 2011),  pp. 24-30.
Inquiry into the academic achievement of Latino/a youth in the United States should be of major interest to teachers, administrators, families, communities, scholars, and policy makers committed to equitable multicultural education in schools. Although the diversity of Latinos is well documented, academic achievement discourse continues to lump the group together and compare achievement outcomes between Latino students and White students. In this article, that all too common narrative is challenged by presenting the voices of a group of Latino/a public high school seniors who are graduating and will be attending four-year colleges and universities. As first-generation college-bound students, their voices tell of the immense excitement and responsibility that they feel as a result of achieving this academic goal while also revealing the challenges they have overcome and the support systems they have utilized to get to this place. Their voices are presented to show that there are success stories to be told about the academic achievement of Latino youth, and to reveal the strong cultural pride that they feel as students who have beaten the odds and who want to share their successes with their families and communities. (Contains 1 table and 1 note.)

* Branham, Sandra Carpenter. High school students' and counselors' perceptions of counselors' signaling affecting student preparation for college. Teachers College, Columbia University, 2009. 198 pages.
This study described high school counselors' and students' perceptions regarding the counselors' use of communicative "signaling" given to students about college preparation. The participants in the study were guidance counselors, a principal, and students enrolled in college preparatory coursework in a low-middle-class diverse high school in southwest Georgia. Data were gathered through focus group interviews, individual interviews, and document analysis. Findings showed that the counselors' perceptions of what they provided for students differed from the high school students' perceptions of what they received. School policies dictated specific counselor behaviors toward students who were "magnet" versus "resident" students. Different kinds of students received differing amounts of time and attention from counselors, different advice about course-taking and college preparation, and different forms of access to college preparatory courses and other resources in the school. It was evident that low-income (first-generation college-bound students) were not given equal time or advice as more advantaged students (especially students in the school's magnet program); subsequently, they had less success regarding college access and persistence. This pattern was particularly pronounced with regard to specific decisions about college preparation. These disparities were more evident in choices for more rigorous course-taking, college-going knowledge about scholarships and tuition, and awareness of the intensity of the courses required not only for college entry, but also for continued success. The use of student advocacy and personalization was low for first-generation and low socioeconomic-level students. Based on the data, councils on "new systems thinking" need to be established in order to provide opportunities for low-income and first-generation families who are in need of college preparatory activities. Community members/stakeholders need to be invited to engage with high school students as mentors.

* Bueschel, Andrea Conklin. Hopes on me: Factors that affect college aspiration in first-generation students. Stanford University, 2004, 320 pages.
This study uses well-established predictors of educational attainment to understand better how high school students develop college aspiration. Specifically, the study focuses on first-generation students--those students whose parents didn't go to college. Only 24.4 percent of the national population has a bachelor's degree, so there is a large potential group of first-generation college students. However, prior research shows that only 36 percent of first-generation students will even aspire to a four-year college, as compared to 78 percent of students whose parents earned a bachelor's degree. The guiding research question for this study asks: how does educational aspiration develop during high school for first-generation students, and how do contextual factors affect college aspiration development? Merton's (1968) theory of anticipatory socialization is used as a framework to understand the development of college aspiration in first-generation students. Taking an exploratory approach, the study is an in-depth, qualitative analysis of twelve high school students from two different high schools in an urban district. The data analyses focus on findings on aspiration formation, aspiration development, socioeconomic status (SES), significant others, and school context. Among the findings, the study illuminates the "bounded" nature of the students' aspirations. With few exceptions, the students applied only to public institutions in California. The findings are presented as a typology of aspiration development, with illustrations of expanded, static and leveled aspirations. All of these aspirations are affected by factors of significant others, school context, and additional limiting factors. Among significant others, parents, mentors, school staff, and siblings played an influential role. Peers contributed to the school context influences, and friends were found not to be influential on college aspiration.'

* Bui, Khanh Van T. Middle School Variables that Predict College Attendance for First-Generation Students. Education, vol. 126, issue 2 (Win 2005), pp. 203-220.
Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, this report examines eighth grade school variables that might predict college attendance for students whose parents have no college education (n = 2,521). The selected school variables are amenable to public policy and/or skilled leadership, and they include "school structure" (e.g., number of school days in an academic year), "student statistics" (e.g., attendance rate), "atmosphere" (e.g., seriousness of student problems), "academic offerings" (e.g., required year-long courses for core subjects), and "teacher statistics" (e.g., level of absenteeism). Controlling for students' sociodemographic characteristics and past academic achievement, multivariate logistic regressions show that higher teacher absenteeism in eighth grade lowers the odds of attending college for potential first-generation students.

* Burdett, Kimberli R. How Students Choose a College: Understanding the Roe of Internet Base Resources in the College Choice Process. Dissertation. Educational Studies, University of Nebraska, 2013.

* Castleman, Benjamin J. and Lindsay C. Page, The Not-so-lazy Days of Summer: Experimental Interventions to Increase College Entry among Low-income High School GraduatesNew Directions for Youth Development, #140 (Special Issue: Innovations in Improving Access to Higher Education), Winter 2013, pp. 77-97. Despite decades of policy intervention to increase college entry among low-income students, substantial inequalities in college going by family income remain. Policy makers have largely overlooked the summer after high school as an important time period in students’ transition to college. During the post-high school summer, however, students must complete a range of financial and informational tasks prior to college enrollment, yet no longer have access to high school counselors and have not engaged yet with their college community. Moreover, many come from families with little college-going experience. Recent research documents summer attrition rates ranging from 10 to 40 percent among students who had been accepted to college and declared an intention to enroll in college as of high school graduation. Encouragingly, several experimental interventions demonstrate that students’ postsecondary plans are quite responsive to additional outreach during the summer months. Questions nonetheless remain about how to maximize the impact and cost effectiveness of summer support. This chapter reports on several randomized trials to investigate the impact of summer counselor outreach and support as well as the potential roles for technology and peer mentoring in mitigating summer attrition and helping students enroll and succeed in college. The authors conclude with implications for policy and practice.

* Christie, Kathy. An Exponential Payoff, Phi Delta Kappan vol. 89, no. 5 (January 2008), pp. 325-6.
The tradition of high school graduation is not established for some families. Each first-generation high school student exponentially raises the odds that the expectation of graduation will be ingrained into subsequent children, but ingraining expectations can only occur when far higher numbers of students actually graduate—and do so totally ready for adulthood. Expecting students to graduate from high school will be more established in the culture and consciousness when it is considered no different from the expectations that all five-year-olds will go to kindergarten. The writer discusses Kentucky's Council on Postsecondary Education's initiative to increase the number of college graduates to the national average by 2020.

* Clapp, Marlene and Michael Young. "The orientation student profile card: improving the collection of student demographic information," College and University, vol. 86, issue 2 (Fall 2010), pp. 43-48.
The writers describe how the use of the Orientation Student Profile Card has helped Bridgewater State University (BSU), Massachusetts, better identify its population of underrepresented students. This new student profile card includes questions on amount of parental education, ethnicity, and race. Along with data from the Financial Aid Office, the card has enabled the university's Office of Institutional Research and Assessment to better determine the percentage of incoming first-time freshmen who are part of at least one underrepresented student population—low-income, first-generation college, or students of color. The use of the card has reinforced efforts to recruit underrepresented students into programs that can help them succeed in college and has informed efforts to develop and assess student success programs.

* Epstein, Jonathan P. and Sarah Parrott. "The World is Changing: Just Not As Much As You've Heard," College and University, vol. 84, issue 3 (Winter 2009), pp. 43-7.
The high level of anxiety about changing student demographics seems somewhat disproportionate to the facts. Some institutions will have to deploy resources to incorporate a burgeoning Hispanic population in the higher education community, some will need to take steps to educate larger numbers of first-generation and low-income students, and the nation will need to adjust to the dynamics of a majority female higher education student body. However, they should not make dramatic changes to recruitment spending and strategy without evidence suggesting that it is necessary, should trust the evidence, and should not believe the hype. Instead, institutions should identify and saturate their primary markets, manage their admission to enrollment yield, and watch for subtle and dramatic changes in competitors' recruitment practices.

* Family Firsts: Reach for Your Dreams. ACT, Inc., 2007. 16 pp.
This booklet is designed to help potential first-generation college students think about and plan for college. It provides helpful information on the following topics: (1) reasons to go to college; (2) what it takes to get into college; (3) who can help with the planning and admissions process; (4) how to choose a college and succeed once there; and (5) where to find the money. Includes testimonials from first-generation college students, a list of helpful resources, a timeline for college planning, a college comparison worksheet, and a glossary of key terms.

* Flores, Ramon. Attributes and characteristics of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) high school program for first-generation Latino students. Pepperdine University, 2007.
This study used a web-based survey collected data from 28 first-generation Latino engineers who participated in the Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) program during their high school years. From the set of 28 respondents, 5 volunteered to participate in an optional telephone interview. The purpose of this study was to describe the critical attributes and characteristics of the MESA program that lead to success at both the high school and college levels for first-generation Latino students. Success at the high school level was operationally defined as successfully graduating with a high school diploma. Success at the college level was operationally defined here as college graduation with an engineering degree. Using a mixed-methods technique, the researcher attempted to secure consensus of opinion from a sample population of 28 first-generation Latino engineers. The mixed-methods technique was chosen since it allowed the researcher to draw on the strengths of quantitative and qualitative approaches. According to the findings, the typical respondent felt that mentoring was the attribute of the MESA program that most prepared him to graduate from high school. The respondents felt that the following MESA attributes most helped them transition into an undergraduate engineering program: Academic and University Advising; Enrichment Activities; Career Advising; Field Trips; Mentoring; Scholarship Incentive Awards; and Speakers. The respondents viewed study groups as the MESA attribute that best prepared them to graduate college with an engineering degree. This study was purposefully designed as a descriptive study. Future research is required to extend this work into an evaluative study. This would allow for the generalization of the critical attributes to the general student population serviced by the MESA program.

* Gibbons, Melinda M. and L. DiAnne Borders. Prospective First-Generation College Students: A Social-Cognitive Perspective, Career Development Quarterly, vol. 58, issue 3 (Mar 2010), pp. 194-208.
The authors investigated differences in college-going expectations of middle school students who would be the 1st in their families to attend college. Social-cognitive career theory (SCCT; R. W. Lent, S. D. Brown, & G. Hackett, 1994) was used to examine college-related expectations in 272 seventh-grade students. Differences were found between prospective 1st-generation college students (PFGCSs) and their non-PFGCS peers, with the former group demonstrating lower self-efficacy, higher negative outcome expectations, and more perceived barriers. Path analysis demonstrated partial support for the SCCT model. An alternative model for PFGCSs is proposed. (Contains 1 table and 1 figure.)

* Grimard, Andre and John Maddaus. Overcoming Obstacles to Preparing for College: Perspectives from a Rural Upward Bound Program. Rural Educator, vol. 25, issue 3 (Spr 2004), pp. 30-37.
This research study examines the major obstacles low-income rural youth face in preparing to attend college and how to overcome these obstacles through the participation in an Upward Bound program. The data for this study are from a single-site of the regular ("Classic") Upward Bound program at a public university in a rural New England state and include surveys and interviews with students, guidance counselors, and parents and/or guardians of Upward Bound students. The results of this study indicated that there are two primary barriers that low-income rural students face in preparing for college: financial and social. Students and parents considered applying to the program not only for academic reasons but also for financial and social reasons. Once enrolled in the program, rural students began to benefit academically, financially, and socially. The retention rate at this public university is significantly higher than the national retention rate reported by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. Several recommendations for practice for rural Upward Bound programs and high schools serving rural Upward Bound-eligible students are included.

* Hale, Margaret Marcus and Tsze Chan. An Interim Report on the Educational Opportunity Centers Program: 2002-03 and 2003-04, with Select Data from 2000-02, 2006. U.S. Department of Education. 38 pp.
Created in 1972, the Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) Program, one of eight TRIO Programs, funds EOC projects at two- and four-year colleges and universities and public or private agencies or organizations to assist adults from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter or continue a postsecondary education program. Participants in EOC projects generally must be 19 years old or older. In each funded project, at least two-thirds of the participants must be both low-income and potentially first-generation college students. An important objective of the EOC Program is to counsel participants on applying for admission to postsecondary institutions and for financial aid. Examples of other services offered by EOC grantees include academic advising, college orientation activities, tutoring, and career workshops. This report provides essential data on the first two years (2002-04) of the 2002-06 cycle, compares select data from the preceding and current funding cycles, and makes available information on program outcome measures through 2004. This report is organized into two sections. Section I describes select characteristics of the program's projects and participants for reporting years 2002-03 and 2003-04. Data from earlier years are also presented for characteristics that either are of key interest to the EOC Program or have shown changes over time. Section II presents four years of program outcomes, starting with reporting year 2000-01, to demonstrate program achievement across two funding cycles. In each section, major findings are presented as highlights, followed by tables and figures. (Contains 3 footnotes, 14 tables, and 10 figures. Supporting tables are appended.)

* Hamrick, Florence A. and Frances K. Stage. Community Activities, Educational Mentors, and College Predisposition Decisions of White, African American, and Hispanic Eighth Graders, 2000. 30 pp.
This study tested a causal model of student college predisposition that incorporated traditional measures of influences (parents' education, income, gender, parents' expectations, grades, school activities), as well as two additional influences (first-generation status and mentoring) identified in qualitative studies of pre-college through early college experiences of minority and low-income students. Specifically, the models examined the impact on explained variance in eighth-grade students' college predisposition decisions and sought to identify patterns among the selected variables for sub-groups of students. Data for the model was drawn from the National Education Longitudinal Study 1988; the sample consisted of 300 students randomly drawn from unweighted groups of White, Hispanic, and African American students. This study reinforced the contributions of mentoring and community involvement for all sub-groups of students and also highlighted the generally indirect nature of their influences on eighth-grade predisposition. For African American students, the circuitous route of effects ran from community involvement and educational mentoring to grades, to parental expectations, and lastly to predisposition. The study also reinforced the central role of parental expectations on students' early decisions regarding college.

* Harrell, Pamela Esprívalo and William Scott Forney. Ready or Not, Here We Come: Retaining Hispanic and First-Generation Students in Postsecondary Education, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, vol. 27, issue 2 (February 2003), pp. 147-56. Publication Year: 2003. Available in the Education Library.
A review of research into the enrollment and retention of Hispanic students in higher education is provided. This review covers research into the high school academic preparation of Hispanic students, performance of Hispanic students on college entrance examinations, and family demographics that predict the retention and persistence of Hispanic students in higher education. It reveals significant career preparation changes that must be implemented if Hispanic students are to participate fully and equally in U.S. society. The review highlights the need for public schools to provide the resources to enable Hispanic students to compete with majority students and the need for enrollment of Hispanic students in more rigorous high school curricula. Furthermore, the review indicates that models and mentors are needed to help Hispanic students to navigate the college system.

* Hoover, Eric, Admissions Plan Goes beyond Numbers, Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 54, issue 3 (Sep 2007), p. A25.
Northeastern University's Torch Scholars Program is designed to seek out first-generation students who would not qualify under the university's regular admissions process. The scholarships go to motivated students who have shown determination in overcoming personal challenges. Northeastern believes the experiment will enhance the socioeconomic diversity of its campus in a way that traditional achievement-based scholarships could not. Officials hope it might serve as a national model for colleges that are scrambling to recruit more disadvantaged students even as affirmative action comes under increased legal scrutiny. This article describes the process by which Torch Scholars are selected and discusses reactions from participating students and others in the higher education community.

* Hudley, Cynthia, Roxanne Moschetti, and Amber Gonzalez. College Freshmen's Perceptions of Their High School ExperiencesJournal of Advanced Academics, vol. 20, issue 3 (Spr 2009), pp. 438-471. 
Interestingly, the more participants talked to teachers in high school, the more academically competent they felt in college, and this relationship was especially strong for first-generation students. This preparation may be especially important for persistence among vulnerable populations, including first-generation students, who spend the least time of any group talking to teachers outside class. An academically oriented high school peer group also may prepare students to become socially engaged on the college campus. These preliminary findings are a strong argument for policies and practices that bring all new college students together in personalized social interactions as quickly as possible rather than focusing on groups perceived to be "at risk." 

* Jones, Vinetta C. Invited Commentary: Research-based Programs To Close Postsecondary Education Gaps. Education Statistics Quarterly, vol. 3, issue 2 (Sum 2001), pp. 17-20.
Findings in "The Condition of Education," published by the National Center for Education Statistics, are corroborated by the work of EQUITY 2000, a research-based program of the College Board and other precollege mathematics and science programs that have been targeting first-generation college students and underrepresented minorities. Such programs have clear benefits for disadvantaged students.

* Kirshner, Ben; Manuel Gerardo Saldivar and Rita Tracy, "How first-generation students learn to navigate education systems: a case study of First Graduate," in Innovations in child and youth programming: a special issue from the National AfterSchool Association (Education Library). Also available online from Wiley: New Directions for Youth Development, no. S1 (2011), pp. 107-122.
Students from underrepresented groups who seek to become the first in their family to attend college confront economically and racially stratified education systems. This article reports findings from an evaluation of First Graduate, an organization that offers college advising, mentoring, tutoring, and case management to first-generation students starting in seventh grade. We highlight three systems that youth say they encountered on their pathway to college: open enrollment, course taking, and college admissions. We describe how youth navigated these systems and the roles that adults played in support. Our conclusion discusses implications for how after-school programs can support first-generation students.

* LaSota, Robin R. Factors, Practices, and Policies Influencing Students' Upward Transfer to Baccalaurate-Degree Programs and Instituions: A Mixed Methods Analysis. Dissertation. University of Washington, 2013.
Utilizes an explanatory, sequential mixed-methods research design to assess factors influencing community college students' transfer probability to baccalaureate-granting institutions and to present promising practices in colleges and states directed at improving upward transfer, particularly for low-income and first-generation college students. First, the dissertation features multi-level random-effects model analyses to better understand how factors such as students' academic and social integration, community college characteristics and expenditures, and state transfer policy components influence community college students' 2/4 transfer probability over a recent six-year period (utilizing the Beginning Postsecondary Study 2003-2009).

 * Lazenby, Sara. An Untapped Resource for Increasing College Attainment: Estimating the Population of Potential First-Generation Students in Wisconsin. WISCAPE Policy Brief, Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education. 2011. 12 pp.
Potential first-generation students make up a large segment of Wisconsin's teenage population. To increase the pool of educated workers in Wisconsin, policymakers must work to recruit, retain, and graduate these students. Estimates of the size of the first-generation student population in the state are crucial for these efforts. This brief presents a first-of-its- kind method for estimating the number of potential first-generation students in Wisconsin, discusses the primary characteristics of this population, and provides implications for policymakers and practitioners. (Contains 2 tables, 1 figure and 12 notes.)

* Long, Deborah Thurlow, Darris Means, and Kim Pyne. College by Design (part of a special issue entitled Expecting excellence). Educational Leadership, vol. 66, issue 2 (October 2008), pp. 77-9.
Elon Academy is a college preparatory program for low-income students in Alamance County, North Carolina. The result of a partnership between Elon University and struggling high schools, the academy increases students' chances of becoming first-generation college graduates. Students taking part in the program live on the university campus during three summers and take part in enrichment experiences during the school year. Academy features include engagement, leadership, and service learning; college planning; and advocacy and support.

* Lund-Chaix, Alisha. Who benefits? A multilevel analysis of the impact of Oregon's volunteer mentor program for postsecondary access on scholarship applicants. Portland State University, 2008, 254 pages.
Despite four decades of national policy interventions, equal access to postsecondary education has not been achieved. Though gains have been made, students of color, low-income students, and first generation students are still excluded from postsecondary participation. Early intervention programs and privately funded scholarships are among the many public and private voluntary responses to this problem. Oregon's state-supported, school-based, volunteer mentoring program for equalizing postsecondary opportunities grew out of a long-standing partnership between a state administrative agency and statewide community foundation. Key program features reflect its origin: open eligibility for any student who wants to participate and reliance on a primary workforce of volunteer mentors. With goals to serve all students, program administrators and policy makers ask, who benefits? Evaluating the program's goal to teach students and families about scholarships and other postsecondary financing options, this study (1) compared scholarship applicants from high schools with the mentoring program to applicants from schools without; (2) examined individual and school-level barriers to postsecondary access as predictors of applicants' likelihood of receiving an award or choice of postsecondary institution; and (3) examined changes over time in the size and composition of schools' applicant and recipient pools before and after adopting the program. Findings indicate that scholarship applicants from program schools had lower family income, lower parent education, and lower indicators of academic achievement. Applicants from program schools were more likely to receive an award, though interpreting differences in their postsecondary choice is yet unclear. After schools adopted the program, the rate that their twelfth graders applied for and received scholarships increased over time. School applicant pools changed to reflect more applicants from traditionally excluded groups. The study concludes the program is having its intended effects.

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* McGlynn, Angela Provitera, Expanding the College Track for Access and SuccessEducation Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, vol. 74, issue 5 (Jan 2009), pp. 51-54.
This article is about ongoing initiatives aimed at attracting the underserved prior to their entering college to better prepare them for college and for academic success once they are admitted.

* O'Connor, Patrick. Inadequate CounselDiverse Issues in Higher Education, vol. 27, no. 23 (December 23, 2010), p. 17.
The need to improve college admission counseling is highlighted by complaints about a lack of information from school counselors about preparing and applying for college and by inadequate training for many counselors in this area. Students in urban and rural schools, which serve many minority and first-generation college students but have limited access to trained admissions counselors, face being unsupported and unsuccessful in college. 

* Owens, Delila, Krim Lacey, Glinda Rawls and JoAnne Holbert-Quince. First-Generation African American Male College Students: Implications for Career CounselorsCareer Development Quarterly, vol. 58, issue 4 (Jun 2010), p291-300.
The path to upward mobility or economic success for African American men is often filled with obstacles and roadblocks. Many first-generation African American men entering colleges and universities face limited resources and opportunities to aid in their career development and efforts to meet their career objectives. This article explores the career development needs of African American men attending colleges and universities. The article provides suggestions, techniques, and strategies that career counselors and student affairs personnel can use to assist these African American men in their career development. Implications for career counselors are also addressed.

* Prange, Beverly. Empathic Empowerment: Supporting Latina/o First-Generation College-Bound Students. Dissertation. Educational Leadership, University of California, San Diego and California State University, San Marcos; 2013.
There is a significant achievement gap for Latina/o students, evidenced by low rates of high school graduation and enrollment in post-secondary education. This dissertation summarizes literature on factors that promote academic success for Latina/o student's success employing two theoretical perspectives: resiliency and social capital. Research in these areas points to the significance of supportive relationships with educators to fostering academic success for students from under-served populations. Nevertheless, many students from Latino backgrounds report a lack of caring relationships with adults at school. Empathy has been identified as a foundational element of human relationships and essential for caring and cultural sensitivity. This study defines empathy, and suggests that educator empathy is essential to creating supportive relationships between Latina/o students and teachers, administrators, and other school personnel. A mixed-method study explored the attitudes and behaviors of educators who demonstrate empathic understanding for students in order to learn what is needed to replicate and spread empathic attitudes and behaviors in the school environment. Findings from this study suggest that Latina/o first-generation college-bound students perceive supportive high school educators as empathic and non-judgmental. Analysis of student and educator descriptions of supportive relationships reveals six thematic clusters : relationship building, perspective taking, cultural empathy, high expectations, undocumented students, and organizational context. These findings suggest a conceptual model showing how educator competencies and organizational context can support or constrain empathic relationship building in schools.

* Reed, Charles B., The Future Cannot WaitChange: The Magazine of Higher Learning, vol. 39, issue 6 (Nov-Dec 2007), pp. 28-33. 
When asked to identify the greatest challenge he faces as the leader of the country's largest system of higher education, the author, a chancellor of California State University, states that the challenge is the urgent need to reach students from traditionally underserved populations--to prepare them and get them into college and then to make sure they graduate. He adds that people must find ways to reach students who might not speak English as a first language, whose parents or grandparents may never have been to a college campus, and whose teachers and counselors may not have paid attention to their needs. These students are already in the majority in California, and their numbers are growing rapidly throughout the country. In an effort to help these students and their parents understand what steps they need to take to prepare for, get into, and succeed in college, the California State University is trying many different approaches to try to meet the needs before the situation becomes a crisis. In this article, the author describes the efforts of the CSU system in meeting this challenge and in reaching the underserved populations.

* Rhea, David M. and Kristy Goodwin, High-Impact Recruiting: A Focus Group of Prospective Honors StudentsHonors in Practice, Online Archive, paper 200.

* Roach, Ronald, Campaigning for CollegeDiverse: Issues in Higher Education, vol. 24, issue 18 (Oct 2007), p32-35.
This article describes how Texas' Closing the Gaps initiative pays close attention to the demographics of its growing minority communities. West Texas A&M administrators created the University Success Academy (USA) in 2004, which was largely funded through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's First Generation College Student (FGCS) program. It is aimed at students who are among the first in their immediate families to attend college. Each participating student receives free tuition, room and board, books and supplies for two summer classes. One course is a mandatory interdisciplinary class, while the other is a core requirement chosen by the student. This past summer, West Texas A&M administrators took the step of funding the USA solely through university resources. Taking full responsibility for the academy reflects the interest of campus officials to institutionalize and offer it as an annual program. Since 2002, numerous programs targeting students in pre-college and college years have sprung up in Texas colleges and K-12 school districts. Although state-administered federal funding has dried up over the past year for outreach programs, Texas officials nevertheless consider the FGCS campaign a critical component of the state's ambitious "Closing the Gaps" initiative. Adopted in 2000 by Texas officials, Closing the Gaps established the goal of adding 630,000 students by 2015 to reach a total enrollment of 1.6 million students at 143 Texas public and independent higher education institutions. The target enrollment for 2010 is 1.4 million students.

* Rodriguez, Awilda. Unpacking the Black Box: Estimating the High School-level Effects of Undermatching among Underrepresented Students. Dissertation. Educsation Dept., University of Pennsylvania, 2013. 
Recent studies have revealed how large shares of college-ready students undermatch , or enroll in colleges with less competitive admissions processes than they are eligible to attend. Undermatch sits at the nexus of both college access and completion agendas, as undermatching to a less selective institution results in a decreased likelihood of graduating from college. Latino, low-income, and potential first generation college graduates are more likely to undermatch than their nonunderrepresented peers. Many underrepresented students rely on their high schools to help navigate the college choice process, yet we have a limited understanding of how high school characteristics can inhibit or promote the likelihood of undermatch. This study used ELS:2002 data to model within the HGLM framework the likelihood of undermatch. In order to explain the observed variations in undermatch at the high school-level, I measured high school-level predictors in two distinct ways: confirmatory factor analysis to identify individual high school-level measures of college-promoting resources and norms; as well as latent class analysis to create a typology of high school contexts. Findings suggest that students who attend high schools with above average, rather than average, college-promoting resources and norms are less likely to undermatch at the time of application and enrollment, after controlling for student-, school-, and state-level characteristics. Net of other variables, students who were not high income and whose parents did not have a bachelor's degree were more likely to undermatch than their peers. Smaller shares of Black, Latino, low-income, and first-generation students were eligible to attend selective institutions, larger shares undermatched by qualification level, and larger shares were in low-resourced high schools.

Royall, Timothy J. Educational Capacity Development: The Journey of Five First-generation College Graduate Teachers Through Acquisition of Social and Cultural Capital and Transmission Towards Their High School Students. Dissertation. School of Education, University of Pittsburgh, 2013.

* Sand, R. Scott, Ph.D. Matriculation decisions of adult first-generation college students: A grounded theory inquiry into critical life moments. Capella University, 2010 172 pp.
Early college choice models utilized data from high school seniors who were from predominately middle income, White, and continuing generation families. This dissertation focused on first-generation students who entered college between the ages of 35 and 50. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with these students to construct a theory regarding their decision to matriculate. Following the interviews, responses were coded to uncover themes in the students' life stories. Student responses were categorized into four profiles. One profile was of students who maintained a high level of interest in a college education throughout their lives. This set of students was fulfilling their dream by matriculating. A second set of students had a high interest level in college during high school, but lost interest during early adulthood. These students demonstrated a high degree of interest during the interview and were classified as regaining their interest in college. The third set of students had low to medium interest in college while in high school. These students were transcending previous limitations and demonstrated high levels of interest during the interview. The final profile of students had mixed interest levels in high school but showed medium or low interest in the interview. These students were early in their programs and were seen as in the process of transitioning to a new level. They may increase their interest or they may leave the institution. These profiles allow practitioners to understand the matriculation decision of high school students and adults. In addition, key areas affecting individual interest levels are identified to assist practitioners and faculty in aiding adults to the next level of preparedness.

* Schaeffer, Kelly, Ed.D. Educator perspectives on school counselor advocacy as it relates to the college access of underrepresented students. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2008, 161 pp.
Research indicates that minority students, economically disadvantaged students, and first-generation students are underrepresented in four-year colleges and universities. Literature encourages school counselors to act as advocates in their schools while addressing issues of inequity which include the college access of underrepresented groups of students. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the practice of high school counselor advocacy as it relates specifically to increasing access for students traditionally underrepresented in four-year colleges and universities. While theoretical literature encourages the practice of advocacy in schools, little research has been conducted that examines school counselor advocacy within this context. Twelve school counselors, three school administrators, and four mathematics teachers were interviewed regarding their perspectives on school counselor advocacy. The initial presentation of the data utilized the research questions along with the Advocacy Competencies for Professional School Counselors. The research questions defined advocacy, described advocacy behaviors, and identified factors that impact the use of advocacy within this context. In addition, the advocacy competencies of dispositions, knowledge, and skills were utilized to gain a deeper understanding of the data. Participants defined advocacy by emphasizing the importance of empathy, a parental role, and an ethical disposition. Advocacy behaviors that were described included utilizing the two-year college, along with the skills of communication, collaboration, the use of data, family empowerment, and systemic change. Finally, the participants identified relevant advocacy factors such as the school counselor's background, school counselor complacency, student ability, family barriers, role confusion, and district and state barriers. Context was identified as a necessary addition to the advocacy competencies. School counselor advocacy was also examined within the context of the current state of education. Recommendations include the recruitment of potential school counselors that possess a disposition for advocacy and leadership along with graduate education and professional development in these areas. In addition, practicing school counselors can develop comprehensive school counseling programs that emphasize advocacy and equity for all students while promoting college access for underrepresented groups of students.

* Schaeffer, Kelly, Patrick Akos, and Jennifer Barrow. A Phenomenological Study of High School Counselor Advocacy as It Relates to the College Access of Underrepresented StudentsJournal of School Counseling, vol. 8, issue 2 (2010). 35 pp.
Data indicate that minority students, economically disadvantaged students, and first-generation students are underrepresented in four-year colleges. Contemporary models encourage school counselors to act as advocates in their schools while addressing inequities and promoting the college access of underrepresented groups of students. This phenomenological study explored the definition and practice of high school counselor advocacy as it relates specifically to increasing access for students traditionally underrepresented in four-year colleges. Results indicate a priority and value of school counselor advocacy, however participants also emphasize challenges to advocacy that lie in their schools, communities, and even in the school counselors themselves.

* Schneider, Barbara and Justina Judy, eds., New Directions for Youth Development, #140 (Special Issue: Innovations in Improving Access to Higher Education), Winter 2013. Increasing access to and persistence in college is one of the critical issues in education today and presents multiple challenges for secondary schools for how to prepare and support their students to navigate this increasingly complex process. There are a growing number of interventions designed to improve college access and matriculation for high school students; this is particularly the case for low-income families and first-generation college-goers as many are at risk for not attending college. Gaining an understanding about the barriers facing the transition from high school to college is a crucial step. These obstacles include a multitude of factors—lack of access to resources at home or school, not having a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum or not taking advantage of these courses when available, and misperceptions or faulty information about the college-going process.

* Schneider, Barbara; Michael Broda; Justina Judy; and Kri Burkander. Pathways to college and STEM careers: Enhancing the high school experienceNew Directions for Youth Development, #140 (Special Issue: Innovations in Improving Access to Higher Education), Winter 2013, pp. 9-29. With a rising demand for a college degree and an increasingly complicated college search, application, and selection process, there are a number of interventions designed to ease the college-going process for adolescents and their families. One such intervention, the College Ambition Program (CAP), is specifically designed to be a whole-school intervention that comprehensively connects several important aspects of the college-going process and specifically is focused on increasing interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). With many adolescents having interest in STEM careers but lacking knowledge of how to transform these interests into plans, CAP supports students in developing and pursuing their educational and occupational goals. CAP offers students tutoring and mentoring, course-counseling and advising, assistance through the financial aid process, and college experiences through visits to college campuses. In addition to these four core components, CAP is also pursuing how to integrate mobile technology and texting to further provide students with tailored resources and information about the college-going process. This chapter describes the complexities of the college-going process, the components of the CAP intervention, and presents findings that demonstrate that these strategies can increase college-going rates and interest in STEM. The authors highlight the importance of developing a college-going culture within high schools that support the alignment of postsecondary and career goals.

* Shellenbarger, Lauren, Ed.D. An evaluation of College Goal Sunday Arizona. Northern Arizona University, 2009, 189 pp.
The cost of education and the amount of financial aid students receive could have an impact on choice of college and ultimately whether students will attend higher education. College Goal Sunday is a national outreach program designed to educate parents and students of color, low-income and first-generation status on the process of applying for financial aid. The program also provides an opportunity for students and their parents to complete the financial aid application on-site. This multimethod, evaluation study investigated the impact of attendance at College Goal Sunday 2008 in Arizona on students' understanding of the financial aid process and subsequent successful completion of the financial aid application as well as student perceptions of the impact of financial aid on perceived ability to attend college of choice. In addition, analysis of first-generation status was completed to determine if perceptions and impacts differed for first-generation students as compared to non first-generation students. Ethnicity was considered to determine if there was a difference in perception and impact among students of different ethnic backgrounds. A total of 1001 surveys were collected from student participants at College Goal Sunday Arizona in 2008. The records of 59 student participants were matched against Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) records to determine completion of FAFSA. A follow-up phone survey was conducted with a sample of 20 attendees to understand student perception of impact of the event. The importance of financial aid was also evaluated in the written and follow-up phone survey. College Goal Sunday had a positive impact on students' understanding of the financial aid process as well as completion of the financial aid process. No statistically significant difference was found comparing first-generation and non first-generation students nor for students of different ethnic/racial backgrounds. Even though the majority of the survey respondents indicated they would attend college regardless of receipt of financial aid, most students suggested they could not attend their college of choice without funding. This study supports the need for high schools, colleges, the government and the community at large to disseminate financial aid information to ensure all potential college students the opportunity to attend higher education.

* Sherwin, Jay. Make Me a Match: Helping Low-Income and First-Generation Students Make Good College Choices. Policy Brief. MDRC. 8 pp.
Educators, researchers, and policymakers across the political spectrum agree that America must send more of its young people to college and find ways to help them graduate. Yet it has been difficult to design and implement effective strategies for dramatically increasing college enrollment and graduation. In Chicago, an intervention now under way, the College Match Program, takes an innovative approach to solving the problem of low college graduation rates. Developed by MDRC in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools, College Match targets a population that has been overlooked by many other college success initiatives: capable students who are prepared for college but need advice and support to choose college wisely. A large percentage of such students are "undermatching,"--that is, enrolling in colleges for which they are academically overqualified, or not going to college at all. The program places young adult advisers in high schools to help these students find colleges that meet their academic, social, and personal needs, and tests the theory that students who enroll in a college that is a good match are most likely to thrive, persist, and graduate. (Contains 1 table and 17 notes.)

Study Suggests Colleges Do More To Reach Under-represented StudentsDiverse Issues in Higher Education, vol. 24 no. 24 (January 10 2008), p. 14.
A recent report from the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative reveals that information about college from traditional sources is not as accessible to or easily understood by low-income and first-generation students. Although college selection for traditional students begins years before enrollment with the gathering of formal and informal information, first-generation students tend to choose a college at the same time they develop an aspiration to attend college.

Talent Search. What Works Clearinghouse Intervention Report, 2006.
"Talent Search" aims to help low-income and first-generation college students (those whose parents do not have four-year college degrees) complete high school and gain access to college through a combination of services designed to improve academic achievement and increase access to financial aid. Services include test taking and study skills assistance, academic advising, tutoring, career development, college campus visits, and financial aid application assistance. Two studies of "Talent Search"--both included in the same report--met What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards with reservations--one conducted in Texas and another in Florida. The Texas study involved 10 "Talent Search" projects (each serving 10-20 high schools) and 4,027 participants, who were matched to 30,842 nonparticipants from the same high schools based on propensity scoring methods that matched students on 18 demographic, socioeconomic, and academic characteristics. The Florida study involved five Talent Search projects (each serving 10-20 high schools) and 900 participants, who were matched to 42,514 nonparticipants from the same high schools using propensity scoring methods that matched students on 13 demographic, socioeconomic, and academic characteristics. For both the Texas and Florida samples, statistical tests found that treatment and comparison group samples were not statistically different at the 0.05 level on any of the demographic or academic measures used in the matching procedures. In both states, the study focused on participants who were ninth graders in the fall of the 1995-96 school year. "Talent Search" was found to have potentially positive effects on completing school. (Contains 6 tables and 7 footnotes.) [This publication was produced by the What Works Clearinghouse. The following study is reviewed in this intervention report: Constantine, J. M., Seftor, N. S., Martin, E. S., Silva, T., & Myers, D. (2006). A study of the effect of the Talent Search program on secondary and postsecondary outcomes in Florida, Indiana, and Texas: Final report from phase II of the national evaluation. Report prepared by Mathematica Policy Research for the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.]

* Tauriac, Jesse J. The effects of secondary and postsecondary social support on the social and academic integration and college persistence of Black undergraduate subgroups. University of Massachusetts Boston, 2009, 123 pages.
Researchers express growing concern over the increasing higher education achievement gap between subgroups of Black American students (e.g., Massey, Mooney, Torres, & Charles, 2007). Whereas the number of degrees awarded to Black females has consistently grown for each of the past twenty years, the number of degrees awarded to Black males during each of these same years has either declined, stagnated, or, at best, only minimally increased (NCES, 2006). Similarly, investigators have found considerable differences between the academic experiences and success rates of U.S.-origin and immigrant-origin Black undergraduates (Massey et al., 2007), as well as between those of Black first-generation college students and Black students whose parents attended college (or second-plus-generation college students; Hertel, 2002). To address the aforementioned disparities, we drew on Tinto's model of persistence (1993) and social identity threat theory (e.g., Steele et al., 2002) and used path analysis based in structural equation modeling to test three-wave longitudinal models of college persistence for 101 ethnically-diverse Black undergraduates at 32 different predominantly White institutions. After comparing Black student subgroups' perceived support from high school faculty, college social support/integration, and college academic integration, we tested three models measuring the direct and indirect effects of these variables on college persistence. The first of the three models also measured the influence of gender, whereas the second and third models measured the influence of immigrant-generational status and college generational status. Fewer differences than we anticipated emerged between Black student subgroups, particularly from comparisons between males and females and first- and second-plus-generation college students. Most notably, however, comparisons between U.S.-origin and immigrant-origin students revealed that immigrant-origin students earned significantly higher grades during high school and persisted in college significantly more often than U.S.-origin students. Even when accounting for the significant positive effects of high school grades and SES on college persistence, there was a near significant trend for Black immigrant-origin undergraduates to persist at higher rates than U.S.-origin Black undergraduates. We also describe other significant differences, possible explanations for the lack of expected findings, and implications for educators, mentors and academic institutions.

* Unverferth, Anthony Richard, Carolyn Talbert-Johnson and Treavor Bogard. "Perceived Barriers for First-Generation Students: Reforms to Level the Terrain," 
International Journal of Educational Reform, vol. 2, issue 4 (Fall 2012), pp. 238-252. Available in the Education Library journal collection.
This article examines the pervasive difficulties experienced by first-generation students in their quest to attend postsecondary settings. A change in the profile of the undergraduate student body has changed dramatically with respect to first-generation students' age, enrollment status, and family conditions. These students are likely to enter college with less academic preparation and have limited access to information about the college experience. Low-income, minority, first-generation students are especially likely to lack specific types of college knowledge, which includes knowing how to finance a college education and complete basic admissions requirements. For these students to be successful, it is imperative to understand the pervasive obstacles they may encounter. The article identifies the challenges that first-generation students experience and their perceptions regarding the postsecondary experience, and it concludes with recommendations for successful academic practices. (Contains 4 tables.)

* Watt, Karen W., Dennis Johnston, Jeffery Huerta, Irma Doris Mendiola, and Ersan Alkan. Retention of First-Generation College-Going Seniors in the College Preparatory Program AVIDAmerican Secondary Education, vol. 37, issue 1 (Fall 2008), pp. 17-40.
This is a study of the retention behaviors of high school seniors in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) elective class. The design involves a multiple case study of eight high schools chosen from California and Texas. Focus groups of high school seniors were conducted in four schools in Texas and in four schools in California. The personal bonds formed among students and between students and teachers were critical to students staying in AVID for four years. School structural barriers placed on students did not deter them from reporting that AVID prepared them for college and for the future.

* Weggel, Anna. In Seattle, a Firsthand Lesson in College AccessChronicle of Higher Education, vol. 54, issue 16 (Dec 2007), p. A27. 
The Dream Project, which started in 2004, pairs students at the University of Washington with first-generation and low-income students in six Seattle high schools. The program teaches undergraduates at the university about higher-education policy at the same time that they help disadvantaged high-school students apply to college. The college students help the high-schoolers prepare for the SAT, fill out college applications, and apply for scholarships. Unlike many similar programs, the University of Washington's project is paired with a course on its campus. In the classroom, the college students study issues of social justice, educational opportunity, and socioeconomic mobility. The program hopes to send a message that the University of Washington is still trying to recruit minority students, nine years after the state's voters banned the use of racial preferences in public-university admissions. The project, along with changes in the university's admissions process, seems to be paying off. Sixty-five students are involved, working with more than 250 potential applicants at local high schools. Thirty-five freshman are enrolled at Washington after having been counseled through the program.

Website:
Counseling First-Generation Students About College, College Board.