Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. Higher Education


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Wright-Mair, Raquel

Committee Member 1

Perrone, Andrew

Committee Member 2

McCombs, Tyrone


first-year experience, high-impact practices


First-generation college students; College freshmen


Higher Education


The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore the experiences of first-generation college students participating in high-impact practices during their first year. High-impact practices have been defined by the American Association of Colleges & Universities (2018) as first-year seminars, writing intensive courses, undergraduate research, learning communities, diversity/global learning, service learning, and internships. The goal of this study is to offer new discussions and recommendations based off findings and existing literature. While there is research on first-generation college students, first-year experiences, and high-impact practices, little is known about how the first-year experience of first-generation students is affected by their participation in high-impact practices. Findings from this study suggest that participation in high-impact practices for first-generation students in their first year of college helps students develop necessary life skills and friendships, introduces them to resources, and prepares them for academic success. Findings also suggest that the lack of expectations going into college matters to first-generation college students and participating in a high-impact practice during their first year helped their transition. Recommendations for future research and practice are also offered.