The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

David Lund

Second Advisor

James Johnson

Third Advisor

Cathy Martin

Fourth Advisor

Plamen Miltenoff

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

first-generation college students, social capital


The purpose of the study was to examine the influences of social capital on college enrollment for first-generation college students. The qualitative study allowed the researcher to examine the perspectives of 12 first-generation college students during the first semester of their freshman year at a four-year institution in Minnesota. Through a focus group, the participants identified who was influential and the resources they provided that assisted in the college-going process.

Research indicates that higher education is believed to be one of the main paths to opportunity and economic progress in the United States (Blackwell & Pinder, 2014). While more and more first-generation college students enroll in higher education institutions, their pursuit of college is different than those whose parents have attended college. First-generation college students differ from their non-first-generation college peers in a variety of ways with respect to their socioeconomic status, knowledge of college-going processes, personal commitment, and family support. Social capital, the knowledge, resources, and information achieved within social networks, is important to first-generation college students because it assists them in making decisions related to the college-going process (Soria & Stebleton, 2012).

The findings of the study support that social capital, provided by educators, family, and peers, influences first-generation college student’s decision to attend college. The resources provided to first-generation college students through this social capital were encouragement, college and career exploration, and assistance with the college application process. Schools and communities can and should work together to create the necessary social capital for first-generation college students as they work to become the first in their family to attend college.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.