In this study, we examined distress levels of first-generation college students at intake from an average of 137 university and college counseling centers that participated in data collection with the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) between the 2012-2015 academic school years. We gathered descriptive data from the CCMH Standardized Data Set (SDS), and then examined itemized responses from the Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms 62 (CCAPS-62). Students completed the SDS and CCAPS-62 at intake, and both measures rely on self-report. We divided student data (N = 184,334) into groups based on educational status: first-generation (FG) or non-first generation (NFG), and ethnic minority status: White (W) or minority (M), with several minorities grouped into the M variable. This created four subgroups: first-generation minority (FGM), first-generation White (FGW), non-first-generation minority (NFGM), and non-first-generation White (NFGW). We compared participants according to subgroup across the CCAPS distress index (which utilizes items from the depression, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, academic distress and hostility subscales), and the eight CCAPS distress subscales of: depression, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, academic distress, eating concerns, hostility, family distress and substance/alcohol use. We found significant differences on all subscales across subgroups. We ran statistics to determine between subject effects and estimated marginal means and found statically significant results across the distress index and the eight CCAPS distress subscales. Significant results showed the highest levels of distress in FG students, with FGM students higher on the majority of subscales. Further research is needed to understand the different levels and patters of distress in these populations.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





first-generation college student, collegiate counseling centers, distress, stress



Included in

Counseling Commons