Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Carla M. Smith


The purpose of this study was to examine the pathways to success at 4-year institutions from the perspective of Black first-generation college students (FGCS). This study was designed as a response to the large body of research that highlights the disparity between enrollment and degree attainment for Black first-generation college students. Specifically, Black FGCS are 4 times more likely to drop out after their first year at a 4-year institution compared to their non-first-generation college student (non-FGCS) counterparts. The research sought enlightening insights and lived experiences of Black FGCS who persisted to their junior and senior years of college at a 4-year college. A hermeneutic, phenomenological approach was employed to examine the factors that contribute to persistence, the factors that are most impactful upon persistence, and the strategies that are employed by persistent students that increase the likelihood of degree completion. A purposeful and convenient sample of six participants who attended 4-year institutions in the Northeast United States was utilized. A semi-structured interview protocol with open-ended questions was used to collect data. The data were analyzed and the emergent themes were categorized under three categories: contributors to persistence, impact on persistence, and persistence strategies. Recommendations included creating a college-readiness environment in high school and establishing a supportive campus environment within the institution.

Included in

Education Commons