Factors Associated with College Coping Among High Achieving Scholarship Recipients from Adverse Backgrounds
by Gregory C. Wolniak & Panagiotis (Panos) Rekoutis — 2016
Background/Context: Studies have shown that students from low-income backgrounds are particularly at risk of not succeeding in college and that, once in college, students from the lowest socioeconomic groups complete college at a fraction the rate of student from the highest socioeconomic groups. College presents unique challenges for students from adverse backgrounds. To adequately support such students in college, we must first understand the kinds of programs and support services that enable students from adverse backgrounds to cope with stressors encountered during college.
Purpose /Objective: The purpose of the study was to improve understanding of the factors that enable students from adverse backgrounds to cope with the college environment in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. The analyses addressed the following research questions: (1) Among students from adverse backgrounds, do the services and supports encountered during college enhance their ability to positively cope with the college environment? (2) Are the associations between college services and supports, and positively coping with the college environment conditional on gender, identifying as a student of color, year in college, or level of adversity experienced prior to college?
Research Design: The study utilized multivariate regression techniques to analyze survey data. The first analytic stage involved regressing each of the three Coping with the College Environment Scales on distinct blocks of variables. The second analytic stage tested for conditional effects by gender, identifying as a student of color, the number of adversities experienced prior to college, and HAA Scholarship application year as a proxy for year of initial college entry.
Conclusions/Recommendations: The study’s main findings include: having a mentor while in college as well as during high school had a positive influence on college coping; self-efficacy significantly and positively influenced all three dimensions of coping with the college environment; and several relationships differed between females (vs. males) and first-year (vs. other) students.
Overall, the study responds to calls for additional research in this arena, builds on the literature on college coping, readiness and success, and extends previous validation research on dimensions of coping with college through analysis of a robust sample of college students. The study reaffirms the importance of college scholarship programs in providing researchers a lens through which to study and learn from unique populations of students.
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