The Impact of Discrimination on First-Generation College Students’ Belonging and Academic Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic
First-generation college students (FGCS) make up one third of the college student population but continue to face unfavorable academic outcomes. A powerful yet understudied factor that contributes to FGCS’ lower academic and graduation rates is campus discrimination. Importantly, discrimination undermines feelings of belonging on campus and belonging has been found to predict academic performance, motivation, and persistence to graduation. The current study examined how campus discrimination contributes to sense of belonging, and how decreased sense of belonging, in turn, predicts academic well-being among 290 FGCS, sampled during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that discrimination significantly predicted social belonging and that social belonging mediated the relationship between discrimination and GPA, and discrimination and motivation to return to college in the fall, but not motivation since the COVID-19 pandemic. We also found that discrimination significantly predicted university attachment, and university attachment mediated the relationship between discrimination and motivation to return to college, but not GPA or motivation since COVID-19. These findings contribute to a growing body of research on FGCS and highlight how campus discrimination can perpetuate academic inequities. Existing literature often points to deficits among FGCS that contribute to their disparate academic outcomes, however, future research should consider the role in which campus culture directly impacts their well-being and academic trajectories.
Forbes, Nicola, "The Impact of Discrimination on First-Generation College Students’ Belonging and Academic Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28647552.