Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Daniel P. Nadler


This study compared the sources of stress between first-generation and continuing-generation freshman female students, Caucasian and non-Caucasian freshman female students, and straight and non-straight freshman female students. This study was conducted at a rural, Midwestern, four-year, public institution, 101 first time freshman students living in on-campus housing participated in this study. A quantitative study was designed using Higbee and Dwinell's (1992) Developmental Inventory of the Sources of Stress (DISS) questionnaire which measures stress in five sub-categories including time management, physical lifestyle, academics, interactions, and chemical stressors. Results of the study indicated that overall, first-generation freshman females experience more total stress compared to continuing-generation freshman females and more stress associated with all five sub-categories of the DISS except for academics. Only total stress scores were looked at for the differences in Caucasian and non-Caucasian freshman females in which this study shows that participants identifying as non-Caucasian experience increase levels of stress. The total stress score was also the only score looked at when comparing the differences between straight and non-straight freshman female students. This study showed that participants identifying as non-straight experience increased levels of stress.