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J Prev Interv Community. 2013;41(1):45-54. doi: 10.1080/10852352.2012.719798.

First-generation college students and U.S. citizens: is the university perceived like family or strangers?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois 60614, USA.


We examined school sense of community (SSOC) between university students who are first-generation U.S. citizens (n = 936) or students who are non-first-generation U.S. citizens (n = 3,556), and between first-generation college students (n = 1,114) and students who are non-first-generation college students (n = 3,378), both attending an urban and diverse Roman Catholic university. Participants reported their SSOC and whether the school was innovative and inclusive, examining whether a higher sense of school community and positive notions of one's campus mission related to being a first-generation U.S. citizen or a first-generation college student. Results showed that a lack of belongingness may lead to lower academic achievement, school dropouts, and less school involvement. Future research should explore why there is a differing impact on school sense of community and campus mission perception for students who are first-generation U.S. citizens or first-generation college students.

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