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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)

The findings from this report indicate that compared with students whose parents attended college, first-generation students consistently remained at a disadvantage after entering postsecondary education: they completed fewer credits, took fewer academic courses, earned lower grades, needed more remedial assistance, and were more likely to withdraw from or repeat courses they attempted. As a result, the likelihood of attaining a bachelor’s degree was lower for first-generation students compared to their peers whose parents attended college. This finding also held after taking into account variables related to degree completion including postsecondary credit production, performance, high school academic preparation, and student background characteristics. Even for students who attended a 4-year institution with the intention of earning a bachelor’s degree, first-generation students were less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than were their counterparts whose parents held a bachelor’s or higher degree.

However, when the outcome measure was broadened to include persistence (i.e., the likelihood of earning any postsecondary credential or still being enrolled), no difference between first-generation students and their peers whose parents attended college was detected after controlling for related variables.

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