Is there life after graduation?: A test of transactional stress theory

The present study focused on stress related to graduation using Lazarus’ transactional theory to formulate hypotheses. It attempted to replicate Folkman and Lazarus’ (1985) study using a stress questionnaire and centering on the emotional experiences of 61 graduating students. Data were collected by a voluntary online questionnaire. Questions about stress were related to graduation; therefore, the emotions reflect how the participants felt or appraised graduation. The participants were asked to recall how they felt about graduation during their freshmen year (time 1), they were asked how they felt about graduation at the senior year (time 2), and finally how they would feel a year after graduation (time 3). The difference in intensity of emotions reported between time 1 and time 2 were compared and then the difference between time 2 and time 3. The hypotheses of this study were based on the anticipated results of these comparisons. Results indicated that during the period of time between the freshmen year and the senior year: the intensity of threat emotions did change; the intensity of challenge emotions stayed the same; the intensity of harm emotions did not change significantly; and the intensity of benefit emotions increased. In the time period between senior year and the year after graduation results indicate that: the intensity of threat emotions did not decrease; the challenge emotions did not decrease in intensity; the harm feelings did change in intensity; and the benefit emotions did not change in intensity. This study has provided an indication of a rich and intricate emotional process related to graduating from college, indicating that this is an area worthy of more pointed investigation.