“Our Branches Are the Vines That Must Bear Fruit”: The Role of Parents in First-Generation Students' Career Development


first-generation college students
parent influence
undergraduate students
career development

How to Cite

Smith, K. (2023). “Our Branches Are the Vines That Must Bear Fruit”: The Role of Parents in First-Generation Students’ Career Development. Journal of Postsecondary Student Success, 2(3), 52–74. https://doi.org/10.33009/fsop_jpss132580


This interpretive qualitative study of 17 first-generation college students (FGCSs) in the U.S. uses parent-generated familial capital as an asset-based framework to recognize the various ways that parents contribute to their undergraduate students’ career development. Six themes illustrate parental contributions: facilitating students’ access to pre-college educational opportunity, making financial contributions, instilling career-related values, giving career advice, job choice from parent contexts (or the way that knowledge of parent cultures and regions of origin informed career goals, especially for immigrant participants), and giving back to parents as a source of motivation for achievement and financial success. Findings also acknowledge the importance of considering FGCSs’ multiple social identities, namely immigrant status, as the majority of study participants are from immigrant families, in understanding participants’ career development experiences.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2023 Katie N. Smith


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