REPORTED PROBLEMS OF RURAL STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA AS A FUNCTION OF GENDER AND CLASS

HARRIS ROBERT GINSBERG, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Purpose of the Study. The literature on rural college students' experiences is sparse, providing little direction for student support personnel. It was the purpose of this study to investigate reported numbers and types of problems by gender, class, and month and the degree of support needed by these students from family and peers.^ It was expected that males would report more problems than females, especially in social areas, that the numbers and types of problems would differ by class and would decline from December to February as a function of Winter Break. In addition, it was expected that students who reported the most problems would seek the most support.^ Method. The Small Communities Program recruits rural Pennsylvanians for the University of Pennsylvania. Of 158 students contacted by telephone and letter, 116 (66 males, 50 females) completed the survey in December and the follow-up in February. All students were single, 18 to 22 years old, and enrolled as undergraduates at Penn. The sample represented 74% of the rural population.^ The survey consisted of the Mooney Problem Checklists and the College Student Questionnaires. Areas of interest on the Questionnaires were Family and Peer Independence scales. The Checklists provided 11 common problem areas encountered in college. The Questionnaires provided background information.^ Analyses of variance were applied to Checklists scores by class, gender, and month with independence scores as covariates. Also computed were t tests between and within gender and class groups and a multiple regression for Checklists scores as the criterion and independence scores, gender, and class as independent variables. Means and standard deviations were calculated for all variables.^ Results. Females reported significantly more problems than males in December though not in February. For women, Adjusting to College was most troublesome, followed by Social and Recreational Activities. For men, the opposite order occurred. Home life was least problematic for all students. As expected, men reported more social problems than women. Female freshmen expressed the greatest overall number of problems.^ Class was unrelated to the variables under study. Month was significantly related to some problem areas but not to composite scores. Overall, numbers of problems decreased in February.^ Family and Peer Independence scores were highly intercorrelated but were poor predictors of scores on the Checklists. Neither scale seemed to relate to class or gender.^ Discussion. Adjusting to academic pressure seemed to bother most students. Deciding on free time activities, establishing meaningful relationships, and arriving at career decisions also emerged as important problems.^ Given the high calibre of Penn's academic offerings and the competitive nature of Penn students, academic problems would seem most pervasive. "Background shock" may help explain the occurrence of academic and social problems reported by these students because of their perceived inadequate preparation for college.^ The differences between the amounts of problems for man and women may be attributed to the increased pressure on women at Penn to succeed academically and vocationally and to a more open approach in dealing with problems. While students seemed to depend on family and peer groups for equal support, other factors may have complicated the findings, such as the ability of either group to provide sufficient support to these students.^ Conclusions. Rural students at Penn were a diverse group. The research indicated that this group had needs and problems that may not have been satisfied currently on the campus. Recommendations emphasized expanding the visibility and viability of support services and inclusion of parents of freshmen in orientation programming. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology

Recommended Citation

HARRIS ROBERT GINSBERG, "REPORTED PROBLEMS OF RURAL STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA AS A FUNCTION OF GENDER AND CLASS" (January 1, 1980). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI8107748.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8107748

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