Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Stephanie Felgoise, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Elizabeth Gosch, PhD

Second Advisor

Stephanie Felgoise, PhD

Third Advisor

Michael Roberts, PsyD


First-generation students are steadily increasing in the United States, and currently comprise one third of today’s college undergraduate population (Stebleton & Jehangir, 2020). First-generation students are more likely to face various academic, social, economic, and cultural challenges when transitioning to higher education. The culmination of these stressors put first-generation students at risk for developing mental health conditions. Social problem-solving (SPS) is one variable that has been shown to buffer against the negative effects of stress among the general college student population. The purpose of the current study was to examine how specific variables contribute to psychological distress among the population of first-generation students. A demographic questionnaire, University Stress Scale, Social Problem- Solving Inventory- Revised: Short Form, Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support and the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale were administered to recruited participants via Amazon Mechanical Turk and ResearchMatch. Results from comparative analyses indicated a significant difference between groups on self-reported levels of perceived social support, with first-generation students reporting lower levels of social support. Predictive analyses also yielded significant findings, with stress and SPS abilities explaining 49.5% of the variance in psychological distress among first-generation students. These findings have implications for interventions with an emphasis on stress management and problem-solving skills to reduce distress among first-generation students.