Date of Award

Fall 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Gregory Trevors


This longitudinal mixed-methods study examines first-generation students (FGS) from a new angle, using the lens of the imposter phenomenon (IP) and the impact of a support program tailored to this population. The Opportunity Scholars Program (OSP) serves low-income, first-generation in-state students. The program promotes retention for low-income FGS. It is worthwhile to evaluate whether and to what degree such a program affects IP among FGS. At the beginning and end of the fall semester, 99 OSP first-generation students, general FGS, and non-FGS completed surveys on imposter phenomenon, academic self-efficacy, and test anxiety. Following the quantitative measures, 12 first-generation students participated in qualitative interviews.

Results indicate first-generation students enter college with higher levels of imposter beliefs and test anxiety and lower levels of academic self-efficacy. Results are mixed on the impact of OSP but indicate a possible protective factor for first-generation students. The results of paired sample t-test showed no change in mean score of IP for OSP students over the course of the semester while their general first-generation counterparts experienced a statistically significant increase in imposter beliefs. Qualitative results indicate that the connections and support provided as part of the Opportunity Scholars Program bolster students’ sense of belonging. Mixed method findings are triangulated and theoretical and practical implications for supporting first-generation students are discussed.


© 2022, Julia Kathryn Hodge