I Think I Can, I Think I Can: Exploring Predictors of College Student Resilience & Hope

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The purpose of this study was to examine the constructs of (self-rated) resilience and (self-rated) hope in the context of college demographic and environment factors. Data came from the 2018 Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL) Big Ten Coalition dataset, which included 6,928 total cases. Secondary data analysis was conducted utilizing the MSL in an ex-post facto correlational study design. Descriptive analyses were conducted to provide an overview of the Big Ten Coalition dataset. A series of cross-tabulation analyses and t-tests were utilized to explore the distribution of the dependent variables across select independent variables. This study utilized blocked hierarchical regression to explore the relationship between the outcome variables of resilience and hope and certain college environments such as participation in a living-learning program, research with a faculty member, mentorship and race-related experiences, among others.

Several key findings resulted from this study. There are significant differences in mean resilience and hope for students who participate in certain campus environments and those who do not. The most significant, positive predictors for resilience included students who responded they were Latino/Hispanic, Asian American, age, overall hope, resilience pre-test and leadership efficacy. Significant negative predictors for resilience include gender and long-lasting condition. For hope, gender, pre-test, resilience, leadership efficacy and mentorship by another student emerged as significant positive predictors of the construct. Identifying as Asian American and being a first-generation student were negative predictors. These findings enhance the understanding of college environments and the relationship to students’ awareness of their own resilience and hope. The critical finding that leadership efficacy is a positive predictor of both resilience and hope stands to change the pervasive narrative that today’s college students cannot cope based on staff and administrators’ perspectives but rather whether or not students believe that they can. This study seeks to fill a gap that exists regarding the socio-emotional outcomes of resilience and hope, giving voice to the ways in which student affairs professionals continue to develop their grasp of aspects of wellness in relation to personal, academic and co-curricular experiences for college students.