Semester of Graduation

Spring 2021


Master of Arts (MA)


Clinical Psychology

Document Type



Research demonstrates that students with higher levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTS) exhibit lower grades in college (Pereira, et al., 2018). Further, higher levels of PTS during the first semester of college leads to higher rates of withdrawing from school (Boyraz, Horne, Owens, & Armstrong, 2013). Although there is ample evidence that the association between traumatic experiences are negatively correlated with academic performance, little is known about factors that may moderate or influence the relationship. Research has determined that higher levels of social support may facilitate recovery from trauma exposure and may lessen PTS symptoms in college students (Grasso, 2011). On-campus involvement is associated with higher grades in students who display PTS symptoms (Boyraz et al., 2013). The present study investigated perceived family and friend support and involvement on and off campus as potential protective factors for college students with PTS symptoms. Specifically, if these factors can lessen the impact PTS symptomology has on grades. Participants were 156 college students with 27% of the sample identifying as a racial minority. Results of the present study provide additional support for the impact of traumatic event exposure and PTS symptoms on college students’ GPA. After controlling for the effects of sex, race, and socioeconomic status, hierarchical regressions and simple slope analyses revealed that none of the explored factors (friend support, family support, on-campus involvement, and off-campus involvement) moderated the relationship between PTS and GPA.

Committee Chair

Mary Lou Kelley