Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Stephen E. Craig

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Third Advisor

Dr. Allison Hart-Young


First-generation, college students, college adjustment, belongingness, persistence, academic success


Previous research has compared the impacts of college adjustment, belongingness, and academic self-efficacy on first-generation and continuing-generation college students. However, the impacts of these factors on academic success (GPA) and persistence of first-semester, first-generation college students have not been investigated. The primary purpose of this study was to examine college adjustment and belongingness for first-semester, first-generation college students, with a focus on race and gender. This study also examined the impact of academic self-efficacy (i.e., course self-efficacy and social self-efficacy), college adjustment, and belongingness for academic success (GPA) and persistence of these students. The roles of race and gender in relation to the moderators of college adjustment were also explored.

Eighty-two students completed measures of college adjustment, belongingness, and academic self-efficacy (i.e., course self-efficacy and social self-efficacy). Participants were recruited via in-class announcements and completed all study measures through an online questionnaire. Results of multiple regression and ANOVAs demonstrated that College Adjustment, Belongingness, and academic self-efficacy (i.e., Course Self-efficacy and Social Self-efficacy), were not statistically significant predictors of Academic Success (GPA) or Persistence in this sample. Results of independent-sample t-tests, however, did reveal a statistically significant difference in the College Adjustment subscale, Institutional Attachment, between males and females. Independent-samples t-tests also revealed a statistically significant difference in first and second semester Academic Success (GPA) for students who Persisted to third semester and those who Did Not. Additional exploratory analysis, chi-square tests, found no significant associations between the impact of Gender, having a Pell Grant, Minority Status, or belonging to an Academic Support Program on Academic Success (GPA) and Persistence. Limitations of the present study and implications for future research along with potential implications of these findings for counselor education, research, and practice were also explored.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access