A Longitudinal Investigation of First-Generation College Students’ Mentoring Relationships During Their Transition to Higher Education
First-generation college students are characterized as college students in which neither of their parents completed a Bachelor’s/4-year degree, increasing their risk for dropout and other undesirable educational outcomes. Mentoring relationships may provide first-generation students with support and social networks as they transition to college.
The study was conducted at a predominantly minority-serving, urban, four-year, public university in Boston. Longitudinal methods, utilizing survey data from multiple time points, allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the role of mentoring relationships.
Retaining pre-college mentoring support through the first academic year was related to higher student self-efficacy. Additionally, receiving support from new mentoring relationships was related to higher psychological sense of school membership. Network orientation was found to be positively correlated with both self-efficacy and a sense of school membership. Moreover, beliefs and attitudes about help-seeking and willingness to utilize social support resources was related to self-efficacy and sense of school membership, in that greater tendencies to seek support from experienced individuals was related higher levels of self-efficacy and membership.
The study underscores the importance of mentoring relationships for first-generation college students during their transition to higher education. Such relationships may play a pivotal role in enhancing students’ self-efficacy, psychological well-being, and sense of belonging in the academic environment. Institutions need to recognize and support the formation and maintenance of diverse mentoring networks for their students.