Contrasting Challenges of Urban, Suburban, and Rural First-Generation College Students to Improve Retention Programs
Keywords:first-generation college students, academic success, urban education, college retention, literature review
The success of first-generation college students (FGCS) is critical to higher education’s role in promoting equity and social mobility among underrepresented populations. Although research on FGCS exists, a comprehensive literature review demonstrates an overgeneralization of FGCS characteristics in the presentation of the data. This study reviewed literature from 2000 through 2020 to identify barriers to academic success reported by FGCS in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Findings show varying challenges across settings in three themes: issues arising from academic preparation, issues in persistence, and non-academic influences. The implications of this study guide postsecondary institutions in creating more effective retention programs to address the challenges FGCS faces in a given setting. By illuminating differences in FGCS challenges, this study combats overgeneralizations of a diverse and geographically dispersed population of students.