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Considering financial stress as a possible predictor of issues in academic and social functioning and satisfaction among undergraduate residential college women, this chapter presents a review of literature related to research on financial stress in the general population as well as literature specific to the undergraduate college population.
Studies on issues in college student’s academic and social functioning and satisfaction, retention rates, and support networks including familial support, peer support, community, and professional support are also reviewed.
In this study, financial stress was examined as the independent variable impacting two dependent variables: 1) academic functioning and satisfaction, and 2) social functioning and satisfaction associated with undergraduate women success in college. To investigate the relationship between the independent variable and the two dependent variables, I asked the following: What is the relationship between financial stress and academic and social functioning and satisfaction in undergraduate residential college women’s experiences?
Moreover, what are undergraduate residential colleges women’s attitudes about seeking professional help with issues related to financial stress and their academic and social functioning, including help from college counseling centers, the college’s financial aid office, and other on and off campus resources? Further, do undergraduate residential college women identify their academic and social functioning and satisfaction as related to financial stress? Hence, this literature review is intended to provide a basic knowledge base of the context within which financial stress, academic functioning and satisfaction, and social functioning and satisfaction are interconnected as possible predictors of undergraduate residential college women success.
As noted in chapter I, financial stress, as was operationalized in this study, refers to the amount of stress a student had about their financial situation and included a range of stress levels measured from “zero stress” to “very stressed” as the response choices to questions about personal and family socioeconomic standing for both dependent and independent participants. From the early planning stages of this thesis, I knew I wanted to lay some groundwork for examining the psychosocial dynamics of issues potentially leading to psychological, emotional, and physical impairments in women’s development and functioning beyond adolescence and into adulthood.
In addition to my personal and professional interest and experience working with women (discussed in chapter 1), I chose to focus on undergraduate residential college women because, added to the developmental experiences of adolescence, marriage, and childbirth, residential college constitutes a major life adjustment and developmental stride for women (Mehta, Newbold and O’Rourke, 2011). Moreover, a few studies on financial stress in the general population had identified women as the population most vulnerable to financial stress and, as a result, impaired functioning (Davidson, et al., 2011; Keith, 1993; Kenel, 2010).
The literature reviewed here is presented in four sections: 1) stress processes,
2) financial stress, 3) academic functioning and satisfaction, and 4) social functioning and satisfaction. The first section, “stress processes” is a brief review of Pearlin’s (2002) conceptual framework for examining stress processes, and Mosher, Prelow, Chen, and Yackel’s (2006) study on optimism as a predictor of positive outcomes of stressors and are both applicable to this study of college students and financial stress.
The second section, “financial stress” focuses on studies of the impact of financial stress in the general population with some studies specific to the population 9 of residential college students. The section, “academic functioning and satisfaction” captures studies specific to college students and academic functioning and notes the severity of the impact financial stress have on academic performance and thus the success and overall well-being of college students.
The last section reviews studies on the importance of “social functioning and satisfaction” for establishing and maintaining a support network of family, friends and professionals as resources for problem solving, for coping with stress and for facilitating positive outcomes in student academic careers. Based on longitudinal studies of older adults and their caregivers in the general population Pearlin (2002) proposed an interconnected three-part conceptual framework for understanding stress processes.
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