First generation college students: Motivations and support systems
The number of first generation college students enrolling in higher education is one the rise. These students often struggle with the transition to a new environment, that they often do not understand, and many also lack the support groups and systems that are needed to be successful. Understanding why these students are coming to college and how to assist them is of the utmost importance. A qualitative study was conducted to determine the motivations and support systems of first generation college students within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR). A basic interpretive qualitative method was selected, and interviews were conducted to obtain data. Nine respondents from the six departments of CASNR and one respondent as a representative from the Texas Tech PEGASUS Program were interviewed and data was collected. It was determined that three factors lead to their enrollment at Texas Tech – parental/family and teacher encouragement, and self-motivation. The researchers also found that the students were involved in several organizations. These included association with at least one departmental/college organization, affiliation with a religious group, involvement with a university program, and/or a connection with a first generation college student group. It was also found that these students depended upon three major support groups and systems, such as parental, friend and adviser/professor support. The researchers also sought to determine how satisfied the students were with their experiences with CASNR and Tech. One over-arching theme was found – high satisfaction.