Date of Degree


Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)


Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


Mac, Jacqueline

Committee Members

Hutchings, Quortne : Jaekel, Katy


Latinx students, first-generation, first year support programs


Latinx students who are first-generation college students face a plethora of barriers when transitioning from high school to college. For example, some students experience a lack of sense of belonging to a campus community, cannot afford to continue their studies, and need guidance on how to be successful in college. First-year support programs can help aid students as they transition. Many of these programs reside in colleges/universities that are low-staffed and have limited funding. Students who are part of first-year programs look to the program to help fill in the gap so they can be successful and complete their college degree. This gap includes college readiness, critical thinking skills, self-advocacy, social skills, and connection to college community. All these components aid in student success so they are confident in making decisions academically and personally. Success means more than just good grades. It involves students taking care of their overall well-being with an approach to health and development. Student use campus resources to support their needs through academic, social, emotional, and financial.

This case study used the culturally engaging campus environments model to explore how participating in a first-year program at a state university contributes to sense of belonging for successful transition to college, experiences of Latinx students as they transition from high school to college, and what support first-year programs offer students. Findings from this study discuss how first-year programs are essential to student’s overall success and college completion. Student experiences show how each student navigated challenges with the support from LSP. Students discussed how LSP helped them gain confidence to complete college and graduate. The LSP director and staff shared different strategies they used to address student needs. One-way LSP addressed these needs was through the seminar class in which different offices at MWHSI presented on resources and ways to support students as they transition. Recommendations from this study include areas of improvement for first-year programs to continue successfully assisting students.


Northern Illinois University

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