A-State Researchers Study Getting Students who face Financial Struggles to Graduation

JONESBORO – A group of Arkansas State University professors, graduate and undergraduate students recently presented their research at the 42nd Annual Conference on the First Year Experience held in Los Angeles.

Dr. Philip Tew, director of the Scarlet to Black Financial Wellness Program, along with Kerry Tew, first-year student success coordinator for the Neil Griffin College of Business, presented “Anxiety, Money and Academics in the First Year.”

“We found that the driving forces behind a first-semester student’s GPA was the stress they were facing around their academics, specifically their stress around being able to study properly and being able to earn the grades that they wanted, as well as financial pressures that were keeping them from being able to sleep well at night,” said Tew.

He continued, “These students were more likely to also be working while in college and working more hours.”
Tew said this stress led to lower student retention. Their goal is to find ways to help students and intervene early so they are more likely to graduate.
Tew along with Alyssa Pettit, an undergraduate student in accounting, presented “Correlating Patterns Between College Students’ Socioeconomic Backgrounds and Health Literacy.”

“We want the attendees to understand why financial wellness education is important to college students and how the best way to get the information to the college students is through a peer-to-peer system,” Tew continued.

“The First Year Experience – a Financial Reality” was researched and presented by Lex Leonard, who is a residence education coordinator for university housing and a graduate student in college student personnel services, Melanie Ricker, a master of public administration student, as well as Tew.

“For me, the absolute best part of being a college faculty member is being able to spend time around very smart, very passionate young people who want to use their intellect and passion to improve the world around them,” said Tew.

Austin Murray, an economics and business administration student, Hailey Hawkins, a master of business administration student, and Ricker presented “Using First-Year Student Representatives in a Non-Traditional Peer Mentoring Program.”

“We were able to interact with professionals from around the world as there were over 1,400 people in attendance,” said Tew.

Murray and Hawkins also presented “Traditional vs Critical Factors of Retention and their Predictive Capability.”

Students were able to do this research thanks to funds provided through grants from the Arkansas Biosciences Institute and AccessLex.

Tew said thanks to the support of the Neil Griffin College of Business, A-State Graduate School, the Honors College and the Office of Research and Technology Transfer, students were able to conduct their research, present their findings and learn from other schools about ways to help their fellow classmates.

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