First-generation college students and family support: A critical review of empirical research literature

Samantha LeBouef, Jodi Dworkin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The majority of empirical literature on first generation college students (FGCSs) in the U.S. asserts that because their parents did not attend college, FGCSs are lacking important resources to be successful in college. However, this results in a deficit-based approach to the study of FGCSs that tends to highlight the differences between first-generation and continuing-education students. However, FGCSs possess a wealth of resources from parents and families that make them successful, and that are often ignored in research. Asset-based approaches to the study of FGCSs are becoming more frequent in the form of books, book chapters, and white papers; however, published empirical research has yet to adopt this approach. As a result, a deeper understanding of FGCSs’ experiences is essential to advancing diversity and equity in higher education. To begin to address this gap, a systematic literature review of empirical studies following the PRISMA framework was conducted on first generation college students and family support; the literature was critically reviewed and future directions for the field were identified. Applying a critical, cultural, and familial lens to the study of first-generation college students will contribute to reframing the research narrative towards an asset-based narrative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number294
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 15 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Family support
  • First generation college students


Dive into the research topics of 'First-generation college students and family support: A critical review of empirical research literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this