Persistence of first-generation Mexican American university students in a Hispanic serving institution
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Mexican Americans are underrepresented in higher education and are less likely to complete a college degree than any other group in the United States. College drop out rates of Mexican American students are highest in the first year of college as a result of the many barriers they face. One such barrier is being the first in one’s family to attend college, leaving one to on their own to navigate through the college system. The purpose of this study was to identify the factors, as perceived by first-generation Mexican American university students, influencing the persistence of students in their first year of college and into their second year at a Hispanic Serving Institution. In addition, this study compared the perceptions of students in relation to gender. This study was conducted following qualitative research methods, utilizing focus groups and in-depth interviews to fully v capture, in richness and detail, the experiences of first-generation Mexican American university students. The findings of this study suggest that the factors contributing to the persistence of participants are exemplified in at least one of three major components. These components include participant self-concept, familial support, and institutional climate, together forming the foundation of college persistence among first-generation Mexican American university students.