Examining the Relationship Between First-Gen Students’ Networks and Their Higher Education Journey


  • Nabiha Azaz University of Florida




college access, college and career readiness first-generation student, students of color


This study seeks to discover the meaningful and impactful high school relationships that first-generation, students of color studying at the University of Florida had while in high school. Personal network maps and student interviews were used to identify the key high school relationships that left a lasting impact on students’ post-high school journeys. Results showed five main relationship types were helpful to students: family, teachers, counselors, self-advocacy, and friends. This paper specifically focuses on the positive impact that friendship/peer support had on first-generation students attending the University of Florida while they navigated high school and the college-going process as this was an unanticipated finding that ended up being significant in the data. Peer support and peer mentorship allowed first-generation students to not only gather information and work through the college application process together with their peers, but peers also supported the emotional well-being of the first-generation students during this time. This study can help stakeholders and educators understand the importance of friendship and peer support among first-generation students while they are in high school and the positive impacts it has on improving their college access.


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Social & Behavioral Sciences, Business, Education