April 30, 2004

The Role of Discouragement on the College Persistence of First-Generation College Students

Lizette Chuateco


Given that social support, such as encouragement, is an important factor in the educational attainment of first generation college students (Torres & Solberg, 2001), this study raised the question of how not only the lack of encouragement, but also the presence of discouragement can affect the educational experience of these students. Despite some of them being labeled "not college material," these students have made it into college. The outcome variable we wanted to examine is persistence ­ will these students stay? The original longitudinal sample included 139 participants attending California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). Participants were asked to complete a survey via the internet and they were also interviewed during the Fall quarter of their freshmen year. At the end of their sophomore year a tally was made to determine how many of the participants have left CSULA and of them, how many have been discouraged. A regression analysis was conducted to determine if there are other factors such as academic ability (high school GPA & college GPA) and demographics (socio-economic-status) that could account for the premature departure from college. We found that discouragement increases the likelihood of the participants' premature departure from college,