DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INFLUENCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS ON RETENTION OUTCOMES
Mudric, Mary Beth
Titus, Marvin A
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Depressive symptoms among college students have major implications for higher education institutions across the country. First-year college students are particularly susceptible to the various impacts that the college experience may produce during the transitional first year of college. The effects of depressive symptoms among college students in relation to retention have been largely unexplored in terms of traditional predictor models within higher education literature. Using a sample of 130 first-year college students who were symptomatic of depressive features, the purpose of this study was to employ Astin's I/E/O model to assess the relationship among theoretical predictor variables and retention. The study sought to answer three basic questions: Among first-year college students with depressive symptoms, how do variables reflecting academic performance influence retention? Among first-year college students with depressive symptoms, controlling for academic performance, do variables reflecting non-academic variables influence retention? Among first-year college students with depressive symptoms, how does the interaction between academic and non-academic variables influence retention? Factor analysis did not yield reduced sets of components for Input and Environmental variables. Retention was analyzed through a series of logistic regressions to theoretical groupings of input and environmental variables. One retention model, Pre-Entry Characteristics + Self Perception + Academic/Social Characteristics + Environment (Involvement) was significant. Students who did not express a self-concern for academic adjustment were 3.7 times more likely to be retained than students who did express a self-concern for academic adjustment in college. First semester GPA had a positive impact on student retention, illustrated by the fact that for each one-point increase in GPA, students were 3.2 times more likely to be retained in school. An inverse relationship is noted for exercise, as students who did not appear to exercise at the institution's fitness center were 1.2 more times likely to be retained than students who exercised at the on-campus fitness center. Implications for policy development and implementation should focus on the development of retention models using variables that may be associated with mental health and college persistence.