Female first generation college students from the working class: Motivations, strengths, and coping skills
Gissinger, Danielle Marie
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In response to the existing literature that primarily emphasizes the deficits and challenges of first generation college students, this dissertation uses a strengths-based approach to explore the experiences of seven women who self-identified as first generation college students from working class backgrounds. Transcripts from intensive interviews were analyzed using a qualitative approach based on constructivist grounded theory methods. Nine themes within three categories emerged from participants' narratives: (a) motivation: pride, hope for the future, and a genuine interest in learning; (b) strengths: work ethic, responsibility and maturity, and altruism; and (c) coping skills: finding balance, seeking connection, and articulating a resiliency narrative.