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Relationship Between First-Generation College Student Status & 6-year Graduation Rates, 2nd-Fall Retention Rates

The tables below show the relationship between student first-generation college student status and two variables: (Table 1) 6-year graduation rate, and (Table 2) retention to the 2nd fall, for new fall freshmen entering over a three-year period, divided by residency. A student is considered first generation if neither parent has a bachelor’s degree; the information is provided by the student on his/her application.

Table 1 shows 6-year graduation rates for new fall freshmen entering in the falls of 1998, 1999, and 2000 – the three most recent entering classes who have had six full years in which to complete their degrees. It shows a negative relationship, for both residents and nonresidents, between first-generation status and graduation rate – that is, first-generation students are less likely to graduate in six years. However, this does not imply that being a first-generation student in itself causes a lower probability of graduating. Several other factors associated with first-generation status, including lower income, lower scores on measures of academic preparation (standardized test scores and high school grades), and student of color status, are also themselves linked to lower graduation rates.

Table 2 shows the relationship between first-generation status and retention to the 2nd fall, for fall freshmen entering in 2003, 2004, and 2005. It shows a similar relationship to that between first-generation status and graduation, and all the same caveats apply.

Click here for a similar analysis of the relationship between family financial resources and graduation/retention.


Table 1.
6-yr grad rates by first gen status                                                                
For new fall frosh entering 1998-2000


                                           Residency status at entry

                                           N                      R

                                   Grad by 6th summer     Grad by 6th summer

                                   N     Grad     %       N     Grad     %

 First gen college student
 No                               5,567  3,515     63%   6,064  4,305     71%
 Yes                                552    264     48%   1,732  1,051     61%
 All                              6,119  3,779     62%   7,796  5,356     69%





Table 2.
2nd fall retention rates by first gen status                                                     
For new fall frosh entering 2003-2005


                                           Residency status at entry

                                           N                      R

                                   Enrolled 2nd fall      Enrolled 2nd fall

                                        Retai-                 Retai-
                                   N     ned      %       N     ned      %

 First gen college student
 No                               5,846  4,703     80%   7,230  6,341     88%
 Yes                                635    476     75%   1,992  1,589     80%
 All                              6,481  5,179     80%   9,222  7,930     86%


PS - L:\ir\emgt\fa\FirstGenandGradRate.doc

Last revision 10/22/08


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