Academic advising first-generation college students

Thumbnail Image
Peace, Anna
Phelps-Ward, Robin
Issue Date
Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Educational Leadership
Other Identifiers
CardCat URL

First-generation college students are often described as individuals who are the first person in their family to attend college. First-generation definition variations span from parents who have not taken any college courses to parents who completed a degree outside of the United States. Nonetheless, these students face unique challenges compared to their peers who have parents who attended college. These challenges include lack of preparation academically and socially. While these risks are generalized to the group of first-generation students, academic advisors should be aware of the potential issues students face and how to increase first generation student success. In their role, academic advisors build relationships with students, facilitate decision making, identify campus resources, and aid in goal setting. The implications of this research synthesis are explanations of academic and social barriers for first-generation college students and multiple deliverable suggestions for academic advisors concerning their first-generation advisees. To begin, it is imperative academic advisors acknowledge the barriers first-generation college students face and the different advising styles. I define and describe several advising types including traditional, developmental, intrusive, and servant leadership. Next, there are numerous ways advisors can support first-generation college students. Some of the suggestions are helping students connect to different offices, aiding student relationship building, bolstering student confidence and help-seeking skills, and offering alternative means of communication. Lastly, in order for academic advisors to better assist first-generation college students, they must engage in professional development opportunities specifically focused on this population, foster connections with various campus office personnel for ease of referrals on students, and posses knowledge of the courses and their perceived competitiveness. This literature review and presentation will serve to identify the challenges unique to first-generation college students and provide suggestions for academic advisors to better serve this population.