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Foster Youth in Higher Education: Mental Health and Academic Achievement During the First College Year

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Former and current foster youth transitioning to adulthood through a four-year university campus require special consideration. Identifying barriers to academic success is critical to the overall success of this unique student population. This study examined the relationship between mental health and academic achievement during the first year at a four-year university for 114 foster youth students. Using mental health measures from the Medical Outcomes Study (Hays, Sherbourne, & Mazel, 1994) and self-reported measures of academic performance, researchers collected data just prior to the start of students' postsecondary educational journey and at the end of the first academic year. Results indicated minimal declines in the mental health of foster youth students during their first year. However, foster youth students with greater mental health problems demonstrated significantly poorer academic performance during their first year at a four-year university. The findings from this study have implications for child welfare advocates and student support services providers.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition is a semiannual refereed journal providing current research on the first college year and other significant student transitions. The primary purpose of the Journal is to disseminate empirical research findings on student transition issues that inform practice in all sectors of postsecondary education, such as explorations into the academic, personal, and social experiences (including outcomes related to success, learning, and development) of students at a range of transition points throughout the college years; transition issues unique to specific populations (e.g., non-traditional, traditional, historically underrepresented students, transfer students, commuters, part-time students); and explorations of faculty development, curriculum, and pedagogical innovations connected to college transitions.
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