As many colleges and universities continue to increase their enrollment and diversification of their student body, the number of first-generation college students of color will continue to rise. Colleges have been charged with the challenge of not only enrolling this student population but also ensuring that they are connected to the university and persist to graduation. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to examine the lived experiences of first-generation college students of color at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI). This study utilized individual in-depth interviews and a focus group to examine how first-generation students of color experienced college at a PWI. Four major themes were revealed: a college degree is a means to a better lifestyle; money always matters; a heightened sense of safety concerns exists; and there is a desire for a supportive multicultural campus environment. The findings of this study may aid institutional leaders in understanding the first-generation college student of color experience at a PWI and assist in establishing and maintaining academic and social support programs that are geared towards these students.


First-Generation, College Students, Culture, Integration, Students of Color, Predominantly White Institution (PWI), Phenomenological Qualitative Research Design

Author Bio(s)

Talisha Lawson Adams University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Division of Academic Success and Transitions, Assistant Director of Student Success Center tlawso11@utk.edu.

*Juliann Sergi McBrayer Georgia Southern University, College of Education, Department of Leadership, Technology and Human Development, Assistant Professor Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: jmcbrayer@georgiasouthern.edu.

*Corresponding Author

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