Community Matters: The Impact of Support and Resource Access on First-Generation College Students

Level of Education of Students Involved


Faculty Sponsor

Betsy Burow-Flak


Arts and Sciences

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-27-2023


Most institutions have staff members or departments that focus on first-generation student success but there oftentimes is still a gap between the programs and assistance being offered and the help that first-generation students report needing. I extend the existing literature on first-generation college student challenges through a focus on first-generation student support and their access to necessary resources (i.e. food, books, internet access, etc.) at Purdue University Northwest (PNW). PNW’s fall 2022 undergraduate class had over 56% first-generation students and the institution was named a “First-Gen Forward” institution by the NAPSA Center for First-Generation Student Success.

To gather data, a virtual survey was sent to 200 current PNW students via email. The survey consisted of 30 questions broken into four sections containing multiple choice, rating scale, and short answer questions. These questions focused on the students’ demographics, access to vital resources, support systems, perception and usage of PNW’s resources, and improvements that could be made on campus. The survey was open for two weeks and recorded 45 total responses.

The survey shows that even institutions that focus on the needs of first-generation college students are often overlooking items that could greatly decrease the issues that these students face. Survey responses indicate that small changes such as expanded tutoring and library hours, increased advertising of their existing first-generation student-focused programs, and expanded food pantry availability would be valuable changes for student support. Survey responses also indicated though, that PNW provides positive support resources for first-generation students involved in first-generation programming.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Jessica Creech is a master’s student in the English Studies and Communication program at Valparaiso University. Previously, she attended Valparaiso University and earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature (2021). Jessica is a first-generation college student who uses her experiences to guide her research to find ways for students to gain the access, support, and resources they need to succeed in college.

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