Date Approved

5-19-2020

Embargo Period

5-21-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. Higher Education

Department

Educational Services and Leadership

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Walpole, MaryBeth

Second Advisor

Tinnin, Andrew

Third Advisor

McCombs, Tyrone

Keywords

collegiate student-athletes, first-generation students, higher education

Subject(s)

College athletes; First-generation college students

Disciplines

Higher Education

Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore the experiences of first-generation student-athletes (FGSA) on a college campus. One major goal of this study is to offer new discussion for first-generation student-athletes to increase awareness on this population in current literature. While there is research on first-generation students and collegiate student-athletes as separate identities, this specific population, combining both identities, has not been at the forefront of scholarly research (Oratagus & Merson, 2015). By expanding the current literature with evidence-based research, student affairs professionals and college athletic administrators can better enhance the experiences of first-generation student-athletes on their campuses.

Findings from this study suggest that first-generation student-athletes are thriving, unique educational pioneers, who are motivated by their families and their own athletic and academic ambitions. Findings also challenge previous notions that first-generation students have lower educational aspirations. Attending college as a first-generation student while participating on a varsity team positively affects all aspects of the college experience. While these students arrive onto campus unaware of the expectations academically and athletically, they also adapt quicker and have more of a seamless transition because of athletics. Recommendations for further practices and research are also suggested.

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