Post-Grant Reports


College Student Well-Being: There Is More to Focus on Than Just Academics

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Cognition and Perception | Human Factors Psychology | Mental and Social Health | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychology


The transition from high school to college is an important and difficult one, both socially/emotionally and academically. However, college programs intended to aid this transition typically cater to academic needs, neglecting overall student well-being. How can these programs be improved to meet students’ social and emotional needs? We investigated how mental health and well-being changed over an eight-week period in incoming college students at a small, residential college (N=130). Students who reported higher levels of depression (but not anxiety) showed decreases in subjective happiness and satisfaction with life. Students who came in with higher levels of subjective happiness decreased in depression over the eight-week period, not in anxiety. Intercorrelations suggest that students on these trajectories have higher levels of behavioral inhibition and lower levels of motivation, possibly hindering their engagement in campus life and building social support. Recently, we began a follow-up study (projected N=200) to replicate our findings and further investigate how colleges can aid students in navigating this transition successfully, including mental health and well-being.


This research was conducted as part of a Linfield College Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant in 2018, funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Student collaborators were Catherine Dirksen and Colleen Johnson.

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