Parents and Families of First-Generation College Students Experience Their Own College Transition

Casandra Elena Harper, Hao Zhu, Judy Marquez Kiyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This case study of families of first-generation college students, drawing from multiple data sources including longitudinal data from 8 parents who were interviewed three times over the span of their students’ first college year and focus group data with parents attending college orientation, expands our understanding of parent and family engagement in students’ college experiences. This qualitative study also offers insight into parents’ views of and interactions with college, which are informed by direct communication with parents as well as students sharing stories and information about their experiences in college with their parents. Key themes include: 1) valuing a college degree, 2) changing relationship dynamics, 3) changing roles and dynamics, 4) changing involvement in educational events, and 5) institutional engagement of parents. With this knowledge, strategies can be developed to foster and support what parents are already doing well and address any gaps in resources, support, or information — whether on behalf of parents or the institution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-564
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Higher Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 6 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • case study
  • Families
  • first-generation
  • parents
  • transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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