Teachers College, Columbia University

Understanding the Support Networks of First-Generation College Students

July 2021–June 2024

Colleges offer an array of academic, non-academic, and financial support services to guide students in transitioning to and progressing through college. In an effort to strengthen colleges’ services in these three categories, this project examines the support networks of first-generation students at four public colleges in California and how they seek help when they need it.

The project will generate insights that colleges may use to strengthen existing services or develop new approaches to support first-generation students. It will also identify avenues for future research and evaluation. The study uses a longitudinal, mixed-methods approach to study the personal support networks of first-generation college students over their first and second year. It also relies on social network analysis methods to explore the types of relationships and supports that first-generation students access, for what purposes, and with what results. Professor Kenneth Frank from Michigan State University is co-leading this research. 

The project is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through grant number R305A210494.