Evaluating Financial Distress, Cultural Fit, and Social Support, as Predictors of Well-Being in First Generation College Students

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Clinical Psychology


First generation college students have been identified as an at risk group due to their higher attrition rate, lower socioeconomic status, and lower reported rates of subjective well-being. Financial distress is commonly reported in the literature as a negative predictor of subjective well-being; and first-generation college students report greater financial difficulties compared to their continuing generation peers. Additional stressors reported by this group include difficulty with transitioning from high school to college, and lower levels of social support. Transitioning from high school to college has been described as an acculturation/reacculturation process during which students must learn to integrate to their new university culture. Tinto's theory of student departure suggests that students who experience difficulty with integration are at an increased risk for drop out, and negative outcomes have been reported when first generation college students perceived a cultural mismatch between their values and the values of their university. Social support is also heavily cited in the literature as a positive predictor of well-being. Prior research has reported lower levels of social support among first generation college students and has suggested that university support may be more important for this group compared to their continuing generation college students. There may be additional cultural considerations in understanding the relationship between social support and well-being. According to the stress and coping perspective of social support, event appraisal, which is influenced by cultural orientation, can impact perception and utilization of social support. Quantitative research in this area with first generation college students is scarce. This current study aims to better understand factors that impact well-being among first generation college students by examining the role of specific aspects of financial stress, cultural orientation, cultural fit/congruence, social support, and institutional support in predicting well-being for first generation college students. Data collection is pending.

First Advisor

Randy Quevillon

Research Area

Clinical Psychology

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