SMU Journal of Undergraduate Research


Underrepresented-student groups experience unique challenges throughout their college experience, the impacts of which can be assessed by measuring students’ levels of thriving. The purpose of this study was to understand the thriving of underrepresented college students—first-generation, international, and transfer students, specifically. To understand this, we sought to measure students’ thriving levels and determine the experiences contributing to or detracting from their perception of thriving. This study utilized a sequential exploratory design using the established 72-item thriving quotient survey to measure students’ overall thriving levels. In addition, the study utilized a qualitative content analysis on an open-ended question asking participants to describe contributory experiences. The results show variation among first-generation, international, and transfer students. Our findings reveal first-generation students to have the lowest overall levels of thriving among the underrepresented-student groups, international students to suffer most in social connectedness, and transfer students to be thriving the most. Finally, our content analysis reveals six emergent themes of experiences contributing to the students’ perception of their thriving levels: university support, policies, and procedures; faculty and assignments; life events; concern over money and finances; self-confidence; and belonging.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License