Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version



Cerda-Lizarraga, P. R. (2015). Latina/o first generation college students and college adjustment: An examination of family support processes. (Doctoral dissertation). The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Interdepartmental Area of Psychological Studies in Education (Counseling Psychology), Under the Supervision of Professor Michael J. Scheel. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Patricia R. Cerda-Lizarraga


First generation Latina/o college students are at a higher risk for not completing their college degrees when compared to other ethnic minorities due to added barriers and challenges of being the first to go to college. Researchers reported that poor college adjustment is one of the factors contributing to the lack of college completion among Latina/o college students. A few studies exist on the role that family support has on the college adjustment of Latina/o students and these yielded mixed findings. The central role of the family among Latina/o students and their support during the college adjustment period merits attention. Consequently, a qualitative multiple case study is ideal for exploring what family support consists of and the role it has on the transition and college adjustment of Latina/o first generation college students. Furthermore, the psychological, social, and cultural dimensions of family support and their influence on college adjustment were examined within the psychosociocultural framework.

College students and their parents were interviewed separately. The students participated in two interviews. The information of the first interview was used to construct a family genogram. The second set of student interviews and the parent interviews focused on family support. The data of the second student interview and the parent dyad were analyzed case by case, resulting in five to six themes for each family. A cross-case analysis was followed, resulting in six themes across all cases. These themes included: (a) cultural values and consejos in higher education; (b) types of support received in higher education; (c) finding my place in college, soy Latina/o; (d) the emotional journey of transition to college; (e) college adjustment strategies; and (f) challenges encountered in college. These themes represent salient issues that four Latina/o first generation college students and their parents experienced during the transition and subsequent period of adjustment to college, while highlighting the role that family support had during this process. Implications for research and practice are also discussed.

Advisor: Michael J. Scheel