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Facing COVID-19 at School: First-gen students persisting through college during a Pandemic

Virtual Live Briefings Student Success

It is essential to understand how first-generation college students (FGCS) are impacted by COVID-19 and the extent they can persist through graduation. The presenters will share mixed-methods data on the extent FGCS are persevering during the pandemic, identify new and existing barriers they are facing, and facilitate a conversation around meaningful support for FGCS during this time. 

Presented By


On January 21, 2020, the Washington State Department of Health confirmed the nation’s first case of COVID-19 (Inslee, 2020). Less than two months later, university officials from across the U.S. suspended face-to-face classes and moved instruction to a virtual platform. By mid-March, universities faced an unfathomable mass exodus of students from campuses. These university-wide closures prompted a collaboration between researchers and college administrators to assess the impact of COVID-19 on first-generation college students (FGCS) across six universities: Bucknell University, Florida A&M University, Rowan University, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Pittsburgh.

In Fall 2020, the research team received 584 completed surveys and 24 interviews from FGCS located across five universities. In this presentation, Dr. Davis will use the data from the mixed-methods study to explore the following two research questions: (1) What does college persistence to graduation look like for FGCS living through the COVID-19 pandemic?  And, (2) How, if at all, does COVID-19 exacerbate already existing barriers? The end of the presentation will be reserved for troubleshooting ideas on supporting FGCS during and after the pandemic.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will:

  • assess the extent FGCS are impacted by COVID-19 in school; and
  • discuss the varying supports FGCS will need during and after the pandemic.


Registration as a member is based on individual membership status at the time of the live event. If your current membership will expire prior to the live event, you will have the option to renew at the time of registration to receive the member rate. Registration for on-demand content is based on individual membership status at the time of the purchase.

If you are not a NASPA individual member, please visit our membership section to learn more about membership types and benefits. We hope you’ll consider joining today!

If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may qualify for a NASPA Foundation Membership Scholarship.

For a comprehensive listing of NASPA registration policies, please visit this page.


Registration and Fees
NASPA Member

Please contact [email protected] with any cancellation questions or concerns. For all other event questions, please email [email protected].