Date of Award

Summer 2021

Publication Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

C. Beckford

Second Advisor

G. Salinitri

Third Advisor

S. Towson


First-generation, Higher education, Interpretative phenomenological analysis, Motivational factors, Post-secondary education, Working-class



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Discrimination in education over the last few decades has been apparent in the form of racial, gender, and even intergenerational prejudice. Educational inequities also exist for marginalized students of the first-generation working-class trying to access and successfully navigate post-secondary studies. In addition, they may face several additional challenges that include lack of proper academic foundation, minimal support from family, friends and teachers, and financial hardships (Blackwell & Pinder, 2014). This research is an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) that investigates the lived experiences of first- generation working-class students at a university in southern Ontario by investigating the key factors that influence their decision to pursue a post- secondary program while highlighting their post-secondary school educational experiences. Literature suggests that these factors can include personal (self) motivation, family support, and teacher influence. These findings will give more insight into the educational experiences of first-generation working-class university students and how post-secondary institutions can mitigate the barriers to access and support first-generation working-class students when they enroll in higher education institution.