First-gen families: How first-generation college students experience family relationships
Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences ; 84(1-A):No Pagination Specified, 2023.
Article in English | APA PsycInfo | ID: covidwho-2111852
ABSTRACTAs the share of young adults enrolled in four-year colleges has increased, first-generation college students have become a population of particular interest. First-generation college students, those whose parents have not attained a bachelor's degree, experience unique challenges and rewards throughout their journeys in higher education. Research on college students and their families has primarily focused on how families contribute to the reproduction of advantage or disadvantage, but recent work on first-generation college students has shifted the lens of analysis by re-centering the experiences of first-gen students and their families from their own perspectives. Drawing on longitudinal interviews with first-generation college students at a large land-grant institution in the Midwestern United States, this dissertation contributes to this literature by exploring how these relationships change throughout college, how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted first-gens' relationships with their families, and what the parent-child tie is expected to look like in the future.First, I examine how first-generation college students' relationships with their parents change over the first year of college, using interviews with 52 first-gen students and a small comparison group of 10 continuing-gen students. To my knowledge, this is the first study on college students' perceptions of the changing parent-child relationship that focuses specifically on first-generation college students. Contrary to previous research that concludes that parent-child relationships tend to remain stable or to improve throughout the college years, I find that there is much more variation in the perception of the relationship evolution for first-gen students, and identify four overarching categories of perceptions of change in the parent-child tie positive, negative, changed but neutral, and no change. Second, employing the framework of habitus - tendencies toward thinking, acting, and feeling - I explore the narratives of three first-gen college students who were forced to reckon with their new habituses they've developed throughout college in the context of where their old habituses were formed, when the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S. in March of 2020 and they were sent home from campus to live with their parents. These students experience a cleft habitus - feeling split between an old habitus and new habitus as a result of upward social mobility - and this distress was heightened and exaggerated by the suddenness of the onset of the pandemic and consequent move back home. Third, I explore how first-gen college students foresee their relationships with their parents in the future (n=39), with a particular focus on tensions these students expect to arise given their expectedly more advantaged futures. For students who anticipate tension with their parents over their upward mobility, three overarching themes emerge (1) jealousy and resentment;(2) changing worldviews;and (3) parents lack understanding. Employing the framework of the conflict-solidarity-ambivalence model, I conclude that the expectation for conflict must be undergirded by some form of intergenerational solidarity, given that these students expect to continue their relationships with their parents despite predicted conflict - indicating expected ambivalent intergenerational ties.Taken together, these findings contribute to our understanding of the complicated role of parents and family in first-generation college students' lives. By focusing on students' perceptions of their relationships with their parents, I illustrate the importance of students' narratives to their development as emerging adults. The research in this dissertation has implications for family sociology, higher education research, and university policies more broadly. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)
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Collection: Databases of international organizations Database: APA PsycInfo Type of study: Prognostic study / Qualitative research Language: English Journal: Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences Year: 2023 Document Type: Article