|Abstract: ||The purpose of this paper is to determine why first-generation students (defined as those students whose parents‟ highest level of completed education is a high school diploma or less) are under-represented in Canada‟s post-secondary education (PSE) institutions. Using data from the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS), it will answer the following research questions:
1. Do family and social background, academic experiences in high school and overall educational motivations and aspirations serve as non-financial barriers that may subvert the participation of first-generation students in post-secondary education? If so, how?
2. What are the policy levers that may be accessed and the policy interventions and/or modifications that may be implemented in order to help first-generation students in overcoming these barriers?
What this paper illustrates is that first-generation students are more likely to be of low to modest economic means, to have parents who hold their children to lower educational expectations, to be academically low performing and to exhibit low overall aspirations and motivations for higher education. In this regard, as this paper will argue, it is not so much the first-generation status that can impede the academic trajectory so much as it is the factors associated with coming from a first-generation household that pose as non-financial barriers to PSE.|