Roles of Gender, Race, and SES in the College Choice Process Among First-Generation and Nonfirst-Generation Students

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Abstract

The authors examined students' reports of their college choice process to understand the influence of a set of psychological, personal, and institutional factors. The authors also examined potential moderating influences of generational status, gender, race, and SES on our variables of interest. A diverse sample of college freshmen (N = 1,339), including 42% who were the first in their families to attend college, responded to a self-reporting, Web-based survey. Findings indicate that psychosocial factors and academic quality of the college were most influential for first-generation students as compared to their nonfirst-generation peers in the college choice process. However, gender, race, and SES moderated these influences in complex ways. For example, females rated the psychological variables higher than males; Asian American and African American first-generation students rated higher than their parents' preferences for which college to attend as compared to nonfirst-generation peers. First-generation females, African American in particular, considered academic quality more important than other groups. Our findings should be of value to counselors and other personnel who facilitate students' college choice process as well as college recruitment, retention, and diversity enhancement programs.

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