Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Michelle Boettcher

Committee Member

Dr. Tony W. Cawthon

Committee Member

Dr. Kristin Frady

Committee Member

Dr. Jacquelynn Malloy


This study looked at the roles that older siblings who have been through the college process themselves play in the college-going experiences of younger first-generation college students. A qualitative study was conducted with 10 FGC students at a large public four-year university in the Southeast of the United States of America who had older siblings who were either currently attending college or had recently graduated from a four-year college or university themselves. For this study, I answered the following research question:

What role do older FGC student siblings play in the college-going experiences of younger siblings?

Data was collected using semi-structured interviews. The concept of family capital served as the conceptual framework for this study.

This study showed that the older siblings served one of three roles for their younger brothers and sisters: a supporter, an informant, and a role model. This research makes a significant contribution to the literature surrounding first-generation college students as not much literature exists looking at the second or third-in-family’s perceptions of their siblings as they navigate college.

Additional research studies centering on younger siblings could explore the findings of this study further, and first-generation support programs could utilize the fact that these first-generation college students have a built-in resource to tap into to when designing programming to further develop that connection. College and university policy makers could also create financial aid and admissions policies to encourage more second-in-family students to attend college.



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