Date of Award


Degree Name

Curriculum and Instruction


Graduate School of Education and Professional Development

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Samuel Securro

Second Advisor

Nega Debela

Third Advisor

Louis K.Watts


This investigation determined the degree of importance for selected personal-psychological, academic, peer, financial, and family factors influencing the decision to attend college by first-generation, Appalachian (FGA) sophomore students. Outcomes were further related to the degree of academic and social integration in college and the likelihood of participants returning (persisting) to the next term or year. Participants were a purposeful group of 3,264 sophomores enrolled at three universities. Data were collected using the Transition to College Survey (TCS), which participants completed via an email invitation. Two-hundred, seventy-three responded (273) as follows: 110 (41%) first-generation status, 214 (78%); Appalachian status and 90 (33%), first-generation and Appalachian status. Results found that personal-psychological factors were by far the most important influences for ALL respondents and especially for first-generation (FGA) students. Financial factors were also important influences, though differences were noted among the groupings. Overall, academic, peer, and family factors were not important influences. Participants reported modest levels of academic and social integration in their college settings and FGA participants reported even lesser degrees of integration compared to ALL or OTHER groupings. However, significant differences were found among the groupings for several social integration descriptors. Large percentages of ALL (83%) and FGA (87%) indicated to be very likely to return to college next term/year. No academic or social integration descriptors were significantly related to persistence, with the exception of “spend time with friends on campus” for FGA respondents. Implications are if school personnel and families enhance personal-psychological factors of students, it may influence a greater number to consider transitioning to college. Also, providing students and parents with information about financing college early on in high school may ease financial concerns. Once there, it is important that FGA’s engage the college milieu and build academic and social relationships which can lead to persistence.


First-generation college students - Appalachian Region.