Stress and social support: a comparison between traditional and nontraditional working women college students

Differences were investigated between nontraditional and traditional working women students through stressors, level of perceived social support (PSS), perceived stress, and well-being. Female undergraduates (N = 192) attending a 4-year university were surveyed regarding their academic stress, work/family conflict, and reported level of PSS. There were two significantly different populations under examination; nontraditional students were older, worked more hours, and had spent more years in college whereas traditional students were enrolled in more courses. To test the hypotheses t-tests and hierarchical regression analyses were conducted. First, comparisons between traditional and nontraditional students were made. Consistent with expectations, nontraditional students reported significantly higher levels of work/family conflict than traditional students. In contrast, traditional students reported greater levels of perceived social support than nontraditional students, a result that contradicted previous research and study predictions. Regarding academic stressors, few differences were found between populations. Hierarchical regressions were conducted to examine direct and moderator relationships between stressors, social support, and the outcomes, stress and well being. After controlling for social desirability and demographic characteristics, work-family conflict was a significant predictor ofboth stress and well-being, but academic stress was not. In addition, a significant incremental change was reported for both stress and well-being when PSS was entered. The predicted moderator effects between PSS and the stressors (academic and work/family conflict) failed to be statistically significant.