Utilizing a Cultural Wealth Framework to Examine First-Generation Resources Available at Public Universities in Texas
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In a country facing unprecedented income inequality, higher education can become an important tool for equity. Historically, postsecondary institutions are not built with the diversity of student experience in mind and therefore are not a space where all can achieve. First-generation and low-income students face unique obstacles that contribute to lower persistence rates, in part due to higher education undervaluing their social capital. The purpose of this study is twofold, first to identify best practice interventions that lead to first-generation students’ persistence in higher education and second, to compare the best practices standards to the strategies being deployed by the public, four-year universities in Texas. The best practices identified in the literature review are organized using critical race theorist TJ Yosso’s Community Cultural Wealth framework, categorizing the practice in one of six forms of capital: aspirational, linguistic, familial, social, navigational, and resistance. The best practice rubric was used to conduct content analysis on each of the 37 public universities websites and social media accounts, when applicable. The results showed there is still ample room for improvements in the supports provided by public Texas universities, which is evident by the consistently low six-year graduation rates. There are some institutions exceeding in specific areas and overall flagship institutions of university systems typically provide stronger offerings to their first-generation students. This research was completed in a time of turbulence, in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, where universities are deploying new and creative services to stay connected with their students. Now, more than ever, it is crucial for universities to support students in ways that feel culturally affirming.