Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Cuyjet, Michael J.

Author's Keywords

Social sciences; Education; Working class; First-generation; College students; White students; Men


Male college students--Social conditions; College freshmen--Social conditions; People with social disabilities--Education (Higher)


This dissertation is a case study involving four, first generation, working class, college students. The dissertation study chronicled the experiences of these students during their first semester at the college. In order to more effectively focus on the aspects of social class and first generation status, the study was restricted to white males. First generation, working class students must negotiate a difficult transition from their working class culture to the culture of academia, in order to be successful in college. This transition typically requires significant re-negotiation of relationships with family members and friends, who are not always supportive of their efforts. Research among first generation, working class students indicates that they face substantial barriers to earning a college degree, and are at a distinct disadvantage concerning access to college and degree attainment. Case study methodology was employed for this study. Participants were interviewed every two weeks throughout the semester to chronicle their experiences. The research question for the study was: How do first generation, working class, first year, white male college students make the necessary academic, social and cultural adjustments to college? The study focused on these students' preparation for college, the support they perceived for attending college, their feelings of belonging to the college campus, and how their social class affected their college experience. The study found that this group of working class, first generation college students lacked significant support systems for their efforts during college. The study found that these students often lacked a sense of belonging to the college campus and indicated that administrators and staff in student services agencies had little, if any, impact on these students college experience. The study also found that their social class had a negative affect on these students ability to succeed in college. The study makes several recommendations for programs designed to help erase the perceived deficit working class, first generation college students have in order to help them succeed in college, and recommends that higher education also adapt its culture to meet the needs of working class, first generation students.