Mexican American First-Generation Students' Perceptions of Siblings and Additional Factors Influencing their College Choice Process
Elias McAllister, Dora
Fries-Britt, Sharon L.
Cabrera, Alberto F.
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The purpose of this study was to understand the factors influencing the college choice process of Mexican American first-generation students who had an older sibling with college experience. While a considerable amount of research exists on factors influencing the college choice process of first-generation college students, and a few studies report on the process for Mexican American first-generation college students specifically, far less attention has been devoted to the college choice process of first-generation college students who come from families where an older sibling has already experienced the college choice process. The major research question and sub-question guiding this study were: How do Mexican American first-generation students who have an older sibling with college experience describe their college choice process? What are some of the familial, social, and academic factors that Mexican American students identify as influences on their college choice process? This study was based on a qualitative, descriptive, multiple case study design. The cases were 17 Mexican American first-generation students attending Arizona State University (ASU). Participants completed a questionnaire and participated in two individual interviews. Participants were first-time freshmen, Arizona residents, spring 2010 high school graduates, and enrolled at ASU in fall 2010 with continued enrollment in spring 2011. In addition, five participants had an older sibling with a bachelor's degree; three participants had an older sibling with an associate degree; eight participants had an older sibling enrolled at a university; and one participant had an older sibling who had completed some coursework at ASU but left before obtaining a degree. The most important conclusions from this study were: (1) Parents and older siblings have the greatest influence on the predisposition stage; (2) during the search stage, students sought information and assistance from teachers, followed by older siblings and counselors; (3) the institutions that students considered for application and attendance were heavily influenced by older siblings; (4) an institution's distance from home had a great influence on where students applied and enrolled; (5) institutional type had a great influence on where students applied; and (6) cost and financial aid had a great impact on students' choice of college.