The value of college education goes beyond simply gaining academic knowledge, and researcher Ryan David Padgett explores two particular social benefits that are often overlooked by those who allocate funding to higher education: altruism and social responsibility. Padgett gives special consideration in his study to first generation college students. Padgett writes,
Findings from this pretest-posttest, longitudinal study suggest that a number of specific college experiences, particularly engagement and involvement in vetted good practices, significantly impact first-generation and non-first-generation students [altruistic and socially responsible behavior], controlling for a number of student background characteristics, precollege experiences and the precollege ASR pretest.
The college experiences that had the greatest impact for first-generation students were not always the same as those for non-first-generation students, Padgett found. But those that were the most formative included study abroad, integrated learning, cooperative learning, and activities and coursework that emphasized diversity.
Ryan David Padgett. “The effects of the first year of college on undergraduates’ development of altruistic and socially responsible behavior.” PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2011.