The first generation college student experience: A case study

Margaret Costello


Background: For first-generation college students–the first in their families to seek postsecondary education--the college experience can be an especially isolating and stressful time. The high-stakes nursing environment may exacerbate the stress experienced by these nursing students.

Methods: This article describes the case of a first generation nursing student who personifies the issues many students (FGS) first-generation college encounter in nursing education. The current literature related to barriers faced by FGS is reviewed. The literature was searched in nursing and educational databases (CINAHL, ERIC) for 2011-2016. Keywords used in the search included first generation college students, first generation nursing students, first generation college students and student retention.

Results: Academic struggles, difficulty navigating college resources, and lack of a sense of belonging all interfere with the success of first-generation students. Recommendations for nursing faculty to assist these students to be successful are reviewed.

Conclusions: Through the use of simple educational strategies, nursing faculty can address the obstacles that hinder first generation students at their institutions, providing them with the tools they need to successful.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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