Year: 
2020
Project Leader: 
Seth Riker
Department/Program: 
UK CAFE Center for Student Success
Funding Received: 
$1,000

The rise of "students as consumers," where a college degree is perceived as a commodity, has largely replaced the notion of "education for education's sake." Incoming college students are increasingly attentive to the earning potential associated with a given major, and assign its value accordingly. Studies have shown this outcome-orientated mindset is most extreme among first generation college students, especially those from low socio-economic backgrounds. While attention to "return on investment" is understandable, this is often problematic for first generation students who have little social capital, poor academic preparation, and little comprehension of their chosen field.  These characteristics lead to bad major fit, poor academic performance, and failure to progress to graduation. In order to develop effective messages to combat this trend, higher education communication professionals must understand what communicative interactions most influence first generation students' major choices. As such, this project will host a series of focus groups for first generation students who have changed their major at least one time. The students will actively reflect on their matriculation to the University, their original major decision, and subsequent major choices. The author will qualitatively analyze focus group transcripts to uncover communicative themes throughout students' college journey and major choices.