Ashley Smith reports at Inside Higher Ed:
"No one has defined what they mean by 'first generation,'" said Robert Toutkoushian, a professor at Georgia and the lead researcher of the paper "Talking 'Bout My Generation: Defining First-Generation Students in Higher Education Research."
The Georgia researchers used longitudinal data from 2002 to better define the first-generation student. They examined the various education levels of one or both parents and how it affected whether a student planned to take the SAT or ACT in 10th grade, applied to college or enrolled in college.
They found, for instance, a student's initial interest in attending college varied greatly depending on whether neither parent attended college versus everyone else who had at least one parent attending some level of college. Students with at least one parent attending college had a very similar level of interest as those with both parents having college experience, Toutkoushian said.
But when it came to enrolling in college, students with only one parent in college were at a disadvantage relative to those with two parents who had some college background, he said.
"Regardless of how we define it, first-generation students are at a disadvantage when compared to non-first-generation students," Toutkoushian said.