Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP


This qualitative research was conducted with first-generation college students who were enrolled in one of two university settings in northeastern Pennsylvania. The purpose of the study was to explore the unique stressors and coping mechanisms first-generation college students experience and how these impact their academic self-efficacy beliefs. A total of 10 participants were interviewed for the study using a demographic questionnaire, self-report stress scale, and semi-structured interview. Grounded theory of analysis provided the theoretical framework for the study, allowing the researcher to code the data to discover four emerging themes. The themes found included (a) the first-generation college students’ motivation to attend college and their positive experience in applying, (b) emotional coping as a first-generation college student, (c) difficulty adapting to college due to unrealistic expectations, and (d) the importance of a positive support system during the first year of college to cope with unique stressors.

Included in

Psychology Commons