Keywords: Academic stress; resilience; social support; social work students
A number of demands reportedly comprise academic stress: course requirements; time management issues; financial burdens; interactions with faculty; personal goals; social activities; adjustment to the campus environment; and lack of support networks (Kariv & Heiman, 2005; Misra, 2000; Von Ah, Ebert, Ngamvitroj, Park, & Hang, 2004). Specific to this latter demand is an implicit assumption that existence or upsurge of social support may moderate, to some degree, academic stress. Social support is often deemed a buffer against the negative effects of stress, including stress in an academic context (Steinhardt & Dolbier, 2008).
Several studies have revealed the impactful relationship between social support and academic stress among a variety of academic disciplines and college student populations. Heiman (2006) noted that academic perceptions are significantly attributable to external factors, including social networks, among university students with learning disabilities. Negga, Applewhite, and Livingston (2007) showed that greater levels of social support were significantly related to lower levels of stress among African American students at historically Black colleges and universities. MacGeorge, Samter, and Gillihan (2005) observed a moderating effect of informational, supportive communicative behaviors from
family and friends on the relationship between academic stress and psychological health students in communication classes. MacGeorge et al. explained that “the association between academic stress and depression decreased as informational support increased” (p. 369). Cahir and Morris (1991) stated that a principal component of stress among graduate psychology students is limited by emotional support from friends.
A recent study by Steinhardt and Dolbier (2008) emphasized the interactional relationship between academic stress and social support among students with various majors at undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. They noted that the stressful academic environment of the college student warrants research with outcomes that reflect the student’s ability to adapt to and/or overcome adversity. Such is the case with the current study of social work students. The purpose of this study is...