Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Dr. Jill Channing

Committee Members

Dr. Terence Hicks, Dr. Mildred Perreault


The purpose of this qualitative study focused on the experiences of first-generation students attending a technical college in rural West Tennessee. The results of this study may identify barriers faced by students from these special populations and may also provide insight into the support systems that motivate these students to persevere. Although significant research has been conducted on first-generation and underrepresented students attending community colleges and four-year universities, there is a gap in the published literature pertaining to the lived experiences of students attending technical colleges, especially those living in rural areas.

First-generation college students face many challenges as they strive to integrate and acclimate to the college campus environment, such as having poor study skills or habits, lack of peer support, and fear of the college environment. In addition, the lack of specific social and cultural capital contributes to their inability to navigate the college experience and complete their degree or certificate attainment.

This research involved interviews with 17 students attending a technical college in rural West Tennessee. Participants discussed their experiences while enrolled at the technical college, backgrounds which included prior educational experiences, any barriers they faced, and identified support systems that increased their academic success. The findings indicate additional campus programs and initiatives may be needed at the technical colleges, especially those in rural areas, to help low-income students with their educational outcomes.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Education Commons