Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



Third Advisor

Dierdre Katz

LC Subjects

Impostor phenomenon; First-generation college students; Counseling in higher education; Resilience (Personality trait)


This mixed methods study explored the lived experiences of first-generation college seniors to develop a deeper understanding of the presence of impostor phenomenon during their college journey. Through a social constructivist lens, this study focused on the lived experiences of first-generation college seniors. This resulted in the understanding of how impostor phenomenon manifests among first-generation students and how perceived experiences of resilience and persistence aided the firstgeneration students on the journey to graduation. This study defined first-generation students as those whose parents did not attend college at all. The study sample consisted of 51 first-generation college seniors who completed the survey, six also participating in interviews. Data were analyzed through analysis of survey feedback consisting of three scales used to measure impostor phenomenon, resilience and persistence, as well as key themes that arose through descriptive statistics, interviews, and coding. Findings revealed first-generation college students experience impostor phenomenon and struggle with the question, “Do I belong here?” In addition, the findings showed a need to learn how to be confident, overcome self-doubt, navigate campus culture, and ask for help. Recommendations emerged for future first-year firstgeneration students, parents of first-generation students, professors, and financial aid counselors.


Copyright retained by the author.