Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Daphne Pedersen


Higher education can be a challenging culture to navigate for any college student. One group of students that may be at a disadvantage when navigating the this culture is first generation students, those whose parents have not earned a four year degree, compared to their continuing generation peers, those who have at least one parent with a four year degree. The key purpose of this study is to use the theory of cultural capital, with parental involvement as a proxy, to examine relationships between these groups of students, parental involvement, and academic outcomes (academic motivation, class preparedness, and academic performance). Using the College Student Health and Stress Survey (2015), relationships were explored using independent samples t tests and OLS regression analyses. Findings from the t tests suggested there were no differences in academic outcomes between continuing generation and first generation students, but continuing generation students received more parental involvement that first generation students. None of the OLS regression models were significant, indicating that parental involvement did not predict academic outcomes. Findings suggest that although continuing generation students reported more parental involvement, parental involvement did not predict academic outcomes. Perhaps first generation students are becoming as affluent in navigating higher education as continuing generation students and future research may benefit from exploring other forms of cultural capital such as peer support.