Traumatic Stress and Risk Versus Resilience in First Generation College Students

First generation students tend to have lower rates of college completion. Why is this the case? Well before diving in any further, first generation students vary in definition, but for research purposes, can be defined as students whose parents did not graduate from a 4-year college. One factor that might contribute to these lower rates of persistence involves traumatic and stressful experiences. The study I’m conducting this summer will therefore investigate 1) the rates of exposure to trauma in FG students and 2) the effects of the trauma on resilience of FG students.

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A New Era

I’ve begun the process of data cleaning! I have a small subset of participants that I’m using to create my syntax file. I’m really just using this small set of data to create the code so when all the participants finish the baseline, I can simply download the data from Qualtrics and run the entire syntax. Cleaning up the data in this sense was really simple! Since I’m focusing on the trauma aspect of first-generation students for my summer project, I don’t necessarily need all the data on my SPSS file. I removed a lot of the Qualtrics jargon from the file to make it a bit easier to zone in on my interests. Throughout the baseline survey, there are multiple series of questions that evaluate mental health. The scales I am looking into evaluate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other trauma induced disorders.

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June Summary

During the month of June, I continued the major portion of my research this summer, recruitment. Using first-year experience, I was able to reach a large pool of incoming freshmen to the college. Once I got in contact with eligible students, I talked them through the process and gave out information about what to expect in the baseline and follow up surveys. Participants can expect one major survey before entering college and as they progress through college, follow up surveys will be distributed. The surveys ask about things like identity, family background, academic experiences, behaviors and emotions. It’ll be super interesting to see if any of these factors are associated with first-generation students.

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Abstract: Traumatic Stress and Risk Versus Resilience in First Generation College Students

This summer, my team and I will recruit incoming first-generation college students who will enter William and Mary in the fall. Prior to beginning college, participants will complete a baseline survey in which questions prompt responses about demographic characteristics and family background, ethnic and socioeconomic identity, social support, help-seeking beliefs and behaviors, future plans and beliefs about the likelihood of completing college. Following the baseline, follow up surveys will be sent during the students’ freshman year to track any changes in success, feelings of preparedness, and traumatic experiences. Data will be analyzed with SPSS to identify trends of trauma across different social groups and the academic consequences.

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