Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

Document Type



One population of particular concern for college-employed social workers is the low-income, first-generation (LIFG) student population. As the national pressure to increase retention in college has intensified, many students are graduating from universities across the country and starting professional careers. In the college population, some students may be classified as either low-income, first-generation, or both. The two classifications combined define a vulnerable population within colleges and universities – those students who are both low-income and first-generation students. The need to examine LIFG college students’ experiences after admittance, particularly in relation to degree attainment, can help social workers determine what programs are effectively helping this population and what needs have yet to be met for this population. Resiliency theory may be especially useful in understanding LIFG college students’ experiences. This study will also examine LIFG students’ mental health needs. By assessing LIFG students’ mental health, this study will build upon what is already known about the mental health problems among college students, as well as build upon existing resilience research. Risk and protective factors were evaluated between academic and nonacademic variables including: factors related to matriculation and characteristics of the current college experience. Mental health needs were also assessed using the MHI-38 (Veit & Ware, 1983). Results showed LIFG students had high parental press, high valuation of college, high academic integration, and high social integration. LIFG students in the sample also showed low psychological distress, with inversely high psychological well-being and high overall mental health scores. These results have implications for future research, policy, practice, and social work education.



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Committee Chair

Ball, Annahita



Included in

Social Work Commons