Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in First Year Studies


First-Year and Transition Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Jennifer Wells

Additional Committee Member

Dr. Ruth Goldfine

Additional Committee Member

Lynn Boettler


First-generation college students are a growing majority on national college campuses. Though research has been extensive in this area to identify barriers for first-generation college students, an area with minimal research is the effect of stress on the academic success of first-generation college students. This study utilized a narrative, qualitative approach to answer the research questions presented. The data was collected using a focus group model. This study found that the various barriers faced by first-generation college students often lead to high levels of stress. The stress they experience may have an effect on not only the academic performance of first-generation students but also on their mental and physical health. The findings of this study suggest best practices to promote the success of first-generation college students and indicate directions for future research.