Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Daniel Douglas

Second Advisor

Jack Dougherty


First-generation students (FGS) are those whose parents have a high school education or less. They are disproportionately low income, of color and less academically prepared than continuing-generation students, complicating college access and enrollment. The psychological and cultural challenges that FGS face on college campuses further exacerbate these barriers. Higher education institutions have implemented initiatives to facilitate FGS transition and belonging. While some research has examined FGS transition, less has focused on specific initiatives for FGS belonging. This project assesses the effect Trinity College’s First-Generation Pre-Orientation Program (FGPO) had on students in the Class of 2021. In order to do so, students who participated in the FGPO, and students who did not, were interviewed. The results showed that the FGPO accelerated student belonging by connecting them to groups and support services. All interviewees perceived Trinity College as two different places, one wealthy and exclusive and another with many inclusive subcultures. Students who did not participate in the FGPO did not feel that they belonged to either Trinity until their second semester. Non-participants more often struggled finding services, and joined organizations within the more exclusive Trinity culture, but did not identify with that culture. The FGPO helped student’s navigating college as it connects them with groups, resources and support. There are material and psychological risks that students faced without the FGPO service.


Senior project completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies.