Mapping their Road to University: First-Generation Students’ Choice and Decision of University

  •  Faridah Kutty    


This paper describes a qualitative case study that investigated the aspirations and decision-making process of first-generation students concerning university education. The participants comprised of 16 first-generation students at a research university. Data were obtained through interviews and analyzed using thematic analysis method. The analyses centered on extracting meaning from factors behind students’ university decisions. The student accounts highlight five factors in the process of negotiating their decision to enter the university: personal motivation i.e. individual perceptions of their intellectual ability to meet their expectation of entering university; family-based motivation particularly the parents’ socio-economic status and involvement in students education; the role played by siblings and extended family; characteristics and context of the school attended; social networks as a medium where the information of university was transferred. The paper suggests that students’ decisions on university education are contextualized as part of a web of complex interactions. Decisions about university education involved interaction between an individual’s agency and strong influences of third parties which provide suggestions for the school and higher education institutions to consider the best medium by which they can help to increase students’ awareness of university education.

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