Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Jean E. Rhodes

Second Advisor

Tracey Rogers

Third Advisor

Sarah E. O. Schwartz


Research suggests that support from non-parent mentors might be an important protective factor for first-generation college students, who face significant barriers and adversities during the transition to higher education. However, most previous mentoring studies focused on singular mentoring relationships, failing to capture the breadth and dynamic nature of social networks. The current study is a longitudinal investigation of first-generation students’ mentoring networks during their transition to college. At the beginning and end of their first year, participants (N = 176) responded to online surveys containing measures of their mentoring relationship(s) and other psychosocial factors, and they provided access to their academic records. At end-of-year follow-up compared to baseline, mentoring networks contained a significantly higher proportion of university faculty/staff mentors and lower proportion of pre-college school-based mentors. According to path analyses, baseline network orientation and support from retained mentors were positively associated with college self-efficacy at follow-up. Baseline network orientation and support from newly acquired mentors were positively associated with psychological sense of school membership at follow-up. Network orientation and mentoring support were not associated with GPA or first-to-second year persistence. Multilevel latent profile analysis of mentoring relationships produced a three-profile solution, characterized by relationship profiles with low, moderate, and high levels of perceived closeness and college-relevant support. The most supportive class (High-Capital Supporters) had the highest level of educational attainment and contained the highest proportion of mentors from academic settings. These findings demonstrate the importance of collecting detailed, longitudinal data on multiple mentoring relationships. They also provide rationale of programs and policies aiming to promote the retention of longer-standing mentors and the formation of close relationships with university faculty and staff.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.