Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Sciences (MSFS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Family Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Alexander T. Vazsonyi


This study measured perceived stress, past trauma, well-being, and future orientation in a sample of community college students located in the Southeast United States. The sample included 412 participants (78%) female; 59% of student participants reported living in a rural community and 41% in a non-rural community. The mean age was 22 for 70% of participants, while 30% were over age 30. Framed by Family Stress Theory and Human Ecological Systems Theory, the study tested whether rural college students would report higher levels of stress, more past trauma, lower well-being and future orientation when compared with non-rural students. In addition, the same set of questions was tested by sex, first-generation college student status, ethnicity/race, and income. The study findings suggest that rurality has no association with stress, well-being, past trauma, or future hopes and fears. However, the evidence did show that SES or income was associated with stress, past trauma, and well-being. Low-income students reported more frustrations and higher behavioral as well as physiological reactions. They experienced more emotional abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, and higher physical abuse than their peers. They also had lower well-being and higher depression than higher income students. Being female and a first-generation college student also increased the likelihood of having higher stress and having experienced more past trauma.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)