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PEDAR: Executive Summary First-Generation Students in Postsecondary Education: A Look at Their College Transcripts
First-Generation Students in Postsecondary Education: A Brief Portrait
Remedial Coursetaking
Undergraduate Major
Credits Earned
Coursetaking in Selected Areas
Postsecondary Performance
Factors Related to Degree Completion and Persistence
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)
Credits Earned

The sign that first-generation students trailed their peers in coursework appeared as early as the first year of college. First-generation students earned an average of 18 credits in their first year, compared with 25 credits earned by students whose parents had a bachelor’s degree or higher (figure C). First-year credit accumulation bears an important relationship to long-term postsecondary outcomes. For example, earning fewer credits in the first year may not only prolong the time to degree, but is strongly associated with leaving postsecondary education without earning a degree (table 7).

As they progressed through postsecondary education, first-generation students continued to lag behind their peers in credit accumulation: overall, they earned an average of 66 credits during their entire enrollment, compared with an average of 112 credits earned by students whose parents were college graduates (figure C). The discrepancy in credits earned is due in part to first-generation students’ higher rates of late starts, disrupted enrollment, part-time attendance (table 2), and leaving college without a degree (figure A).

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