Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/Advisor

Marion, Russell

Committee Member

First, Patricia

Committee Member

Satterfield, James

Committee Member

Watt, Catherine


The overarching goal of this qualitative research project was to fill a gap in first-generation retention literature pertaining to the particular academic and social integration issues weighting the probability of persistence for first-generation students who choose to attend a less-selective, private, faith-based university with strictly limited resources available to support high-risk students. This project was a single case study of a university that serves an undergraduate population where close to 60% fit the first-generation student profile of primary interest in this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted on a purposeful sample of 12 first-generation college students at the university during their first semester at the university. While most retention research has been focused on year-to-year persistence, this study aimed to concentrate on the critical first semester to examine how student perceptions of their academic and social integration experiences during their first semester at the university influenced their decision to persist into the second semester. The findings of this research may be beneficial to informing improvements to the student success programming for first-generation students not only at this particular university, but could also be generalized to other niche institutions that are similar in mission.



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