Date

5-1-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Department

Psychology

First Adviser

Christopher T. Burke

Abstract

Race and ethnicity contribute to degree attainment among students attending their first year at a higher education institution, with White and Asian students holding the highest degree completion rates and Black and Hispanic/Latinx students holding the lowest. Although the number of students attending college is increasing overall, these degree attainment gaps between racial groups persist and warrant assessment. Previous research suggests that social factors drive student retention rather than academic potential alone, and students are most vulnerable to well-being detriments and drop-out during their first year. These detriments are likely augmented for minority students who endure an added layer of minority-status stress on top of common stress. The purpose of the present study is to examine which pre-matriculation (e.g., family income), internal (e.g., personality), and external (e.g. social media use) resources minority students employ to attenuate the influence of high perceived stress on social thriving during their first undergraduate year. The present study extends previous theoretical models of student attrition by emphasizing thriving over commitment to persist to graduation and by introducing a stress and coping component. Two hundred fifty-eight first-year minority students from across the United States completed an online survey that assessed pre-matriculation characteristics, internal, and external resources, perceived stress, and indicators of thriving. Results indicate that family income, financial family support, personality factors, and social support network quality contribute to perceived stress and social thriving. These results function as a first, exploratory step in formulating a stress and coping model of social thriving among first-year minority students.

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