Graduation Year


Document Type

Senior Thesis


Bachelor of Arts

Primary Major


Primary Minor

Clinical and Counseling Science

Second Minor


Thesis Advisor

Ian S. Madfes, PhD


This study evaluated the experience of the students who are their first in their families to attend college. First Generation College Students (FGCS) are disadvantaged as compared to their Continuing Generation College Student (CGCS) peers because there may be little family knowledge of how to manage a new academic system or how to balance school with outside demands, such as work, finances, and family responsibilities; these are all sources of stress. It was hypothesized that FGCS will have higher general stress scores than CGCS. The Perceived Stress Scale and College Experience Questionnaire (a measure of the amount of family support or adaptation to change as a family member begins college) were completed by 25 first generation students and 17 students who had at least one other family member who had attended college. Results supported the hypothesis; the mean Perceived Stress Scores for the FGCS was significantly greater than the mean for CGCCS. The FGCS also had a significantly lower mean on the College Experience Questionnaire, indicating that FGCS had a harder time getting assistance to manage college life. Comparing the Perceived Level of Stress Scale scores to the Managing College Experience Questionnaire responses for the entire sample, Pearson correlation values demonstrated a significant relationship between these variables. It was evident that First Generation College Students have higher levels of stress than Continuing Generation College Students and this appears to be connected to having to navigate the new college experience with less available family or other outside support.