Associations Between Low-Household Income and First-Generation Status With College Student Belonging, Mental Health, and Well-Being

Philip Kreniske, Claude A. Mellins, Eileen Shea, Kate Walsh, Melanie Wall, John S. Santelli, Leigh Reardon, Shamus Khan, Tse Hwei, Jennifer S. Hirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Entering college is recognized as a developmental milestone. Completing college is difficult, however, and students who are first-generation (FG) or low-income (LI) or both (FGLI) encounter unique challenges. In secondary analysis of data from a population-based survey (N=1671 undergraduates) at two interconnected highly-selective institutions of higher education, we examined belonging, mental health, and well-being comparing the overall student body to FG, LI, and FGLI students. Most FG, LI, and FGLI students reported a strong sense of belonging, few mental health symptoms, and good general health and well-being. Compared to the overall student body, FG, LI and FGLI students reported lower levels of perceived family support, worse sleep quality, and worked more hours for pay; FG and FGLI students reported higher symptoms of depression; LI and FGLI reported less hazardous drinking. Interventions and programmatic changes at the institutional level are needed to build campuses where students of all backgrounds can thrive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-720
Number of pages11
JournalEmerging Adulthood
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

Keywords

  • first-generation college students
  • mental health
  • sense of belonging
  • socioeconomic status
  • well-being

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