Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling & Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

James Bartee

Committee Co-Chair

Katherine Byers

Committee Member

Reagan Curtis

Committee Member

Jeff Daniels

Committee Member

Monica Leppma


First-generation college students (FGCS) have been identified as an at-risk population as evidenced by higher attrition rates, lower socio-economic backgrounds, and are less engaged in the college environment when compared to their college peers. Yet despite these stressors, many will graduate college demonstrating their resilience. This study examined optimism, academic self-efficacy, social support, religiousness, and spirituality as potential protective factors for FGCS who perceive themselves to be resilient. Two-way effects were examined in order to determine if any two-way combination of the five protective factors explored in this study explained more of the variance in perceived resilience of FGCS. Demographic variables were also taken into consideration. The study surveyed 249 FGCS from a small rural state university. The regression model revealed a significant positive relationship between the protective factors of academic self-efficacy, social support, and optimism on perceived resilience. FGCS who indicated having more social support, believed themselves to be optimistic and academically self-efficacious, also perceived themselves to be highly resilient. Furthermore, male FGCS reported higher perceived resiliency scores when compared to female FGCS. The implications, limitations, and the future direction of the research were discussed.