Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



College of Education and International Services


Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Elvin Gabriel

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Lena Caesar



The purpose of this research study was to examine the coping strategies of nontraditional female students in a private university in Southwest Michigan, and a public university in Northern Indiana. According to Carney-Compton & Tan (2002), nontraditional female students characterize the leading emergent set of students beginning college. This study examined the reasons why they are in college, the problems they face while there, and the coping strategies they used to make the adjustment to school life.


The Coping Scale for Adults survey was used to determine what coping strategies are utilized by nontraditional female students. The factor analysis produced seven factor scales (work at succeeding, positive ways to cope, healthy coping strategies, self defeating behaviors, proactive self-care, negative coping skills, and means of getting help) that adequately depicted coping strategies employed by this population. Descriptive statistics, multivariate analysis of variance were used to analyze the data.


The result of the Coping Scale for Adults survey indicated the following: 1. Work at succeeding is used often as a coping strategy. 2. Positive ways to cope, healthy coping strategies, self-defeating behaviors, proactive self-care, and negative coping skills are sometimes used. 3. Means of getting help is the least used coping strategy. 4. Non traditional female students used proactive self-care only sometimes with Caucasian using it significantly less than African-American or students from other ethnic background. 5. Non traditional female students use work at succeeding frequently with students with one child using it more frequently than those with no children, or students with two or more children. 6. Self-defeating behaviors, positive ways to cope and proactive self-care as coping strategies are related to income levels. Generally, higher income non traditional students use these coping strategies less frequently than lower income students. 7. Self-defeating behaviors, positive ways to cope and proactive self-care were related to age groups. Younger students tend to use self-defeating behaviors and positive ways to cope slightly more than older students. Older students tend to use proactive selfcare slightly more than younger students. 8. Coping strategies are not related to marital status.


Based on the analysis, the following conclusions were deduced. 1. Nontraditonal female students work hard to succeed. However, they utilize the other coping strategies only sometimes to cope with their problems. Means of getting help is the least used coping strategy but possibly one of the most needed. 2. It is easier for nontraditional female students with one child to work at succeeding than parent with none, two, or three or more children. 3. Minority nontraditional female students’ utilization of proactive self-care may derive from a need to take care of oneself in a hostile environment. 4. Nontraditional female students with higher incomes tend to use different coping strategies from nontraditional female students from lower socio economic levels. 5. Age does make a difference in which coping strategies are used by nontraditional female students. 6. Coping strategies are not related to marital status.

Subject Area

Adjustment (Psychology); Nontraditional college students