Executive Summary: Information for this report was obtained from a study conducted to determine the relative level of adjustment to college of first-generation and second-generation freshmen at Western Washington University. The study utilized the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ), a 67 item self-report adjustment measure. The SACQ is composed of a full-scale and four subscales: academic adjustment, social adjustment, personal-emotional adjustment, and attachment to the school the student is attending. The SACQ was administered to a randomly selected sample of 250 first and second- generation freshman students. Data analysis of survey results indicated that first-generation students do not measure significantly lower levels of adjustment than their peers. This finding is contrary to what would be expected from reviewing the current literature on the college experience of first-generation students. Literature suggest that first-generation students encounter a number of obstacles to college adjustment including a lack of emotional and financial support for college attendance, lower levels of academic preparation, and a lack of needed information about the college-going process. Findings from these studies indicate that such obstacles result in a lower degree of adjustment and thus a heightened risk of attrition. However, results of this current study indicate that literature findings do not apply to Western students at this time. Possible explanations proposed by this researcher for the discrepancy encountered between this study and others include the high quality entry qualifications possessed by Western freshmen due largely to the selectivity of the admissions process, a lack of cultural dissonance between the environment and values students encounter in the home, at high school, and at college due to the relative homogeneity of financial backgrounds, and the accessibility of support services which may enable first-generation students needing help to find someone to support them in the attainment of their educational goals.
Digital object produced by Office of Survey Research, Western Washington University, and made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.
This resource is provided for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries.
Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
First-generation college students--Washington (State)--Comparative studies; College attendance--Washington (State)--Comparative studies; Parental influences--Washington (State)--Comparative studies; Academic achievement--Washington (State)--Comparative studies
Subjects - Names (LCNAF)
Western Washington University--Students--Statistics
Title of Series
Technical and research reports (Western Washington University. Office of Institutional Assessment and Testing) ; 1994-09
Dittman, Sarah; McKinney, Gary (Gary Russell); and Trimble, Joseph E., "Students Who Are the First Generation of Their Family to Attend College: A Comparative Study of Western Washington University Frosh" (1994). Office of Survey Research. 381.