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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

Publication Details

The Transition Experiences of High-Achieving, Low-Income Undergraduates in an Elite College Environment


Author(s): McLoughlin, P. J., II

Citation: McLoughlin, P. J., II. (2012). The Transition Experiences of High-Achieving, Low-Income Undergraduates in an Elite College Environment. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 24(2), 9-32.

 

Abstract

This hermeneutic phenomenological study describes the lived experiences of high-achieving, low-income undergraduates and their transition into a college environment historically reserved for wealthy students. The results of this study indicate that these students are flourishing in full need-based financial aid programs as a result of their own resilience and intellectual capital, despite being underprepared for the academic curriculum of an elite college. Participants’ experiences suggest that this population of undergraduates faces unique challenges and requires specific support services to equalize their opportunities vis-à-vis higher income peers, specifically related to overcoming less rigorous academic preparation, unlearning self-imposed socioeconomic stigma, and managing financial pressures. From these findings, implications for colleges and universities and full need-based financial aid programs are discussed.

 

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