Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Komarraju, Meera


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between college students' social class and their academic outcomes. A structural equation model was proposed, hypothesizing that a student's socioeconomic status (SES) is related to their motives for attending college, thus influencing their perception of fit at the university, their satisfaction with the university, their academic self-efficacy, and their grades, attendance, and likelihood for retention.. The results from a sample of 500 undergraduate students show that overall, the hypothesized model was a borderline good fit of the data. While SES was negatively related to interdependent motives for attending college, it was not related to independent motives for college. Independent motives for attending college were positively related to perceptions of fit at the university, while interdependent motives were not. Finally, fit at the university was positively related to satisfaction, which was related to intention for retention, class attendance, and academic self-efficacy. Academic self-efficacy was significantly related to students' grade point average. These results suggest that students from low SES backgrounds are more interdependent. Further, those who are more independent feel a greater sense of fit with the university and are more likely to be satisfied, express commitment to continuing at the university, and attend their classes. These results provide support for a proposition that higher education institutions should value students who have different types of motives and to consider what is communicated to students through programs and expectations that are focused on independent values.




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