College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-17-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bernadette Sanchez, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Susan McMahon, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kathy Grant, Ph.D.


Literature on college mentoring suggests that mentoring relationships has a positive effect on college students’ outcomes (Crisp & Cruz, 2009; Jacobi, 1991). The purpose of this study was to examine the roles of parental attachment and help-seeking strategies in the number of mentoring relationships reported by college students and the role of mentoring in students’ adjustment to the first year transition to college. Moos’ (2002) theoretical framework is used to root the study on an ecological viewpoint of college transition, because it proposes that individual characteristics and the environment thought which a person transitions affect one another and influence individual functioning and psychosocial outcomes. Participants for this investigation are 452 first-year students who completed an online survey. Participants’ ages are between 17 and 23 years old (M = 18.6; SD = 0.6). Participants are 71% female (n=322), 41% (n=184) is ethnic minority, and 36% (n=165) is first-generation college students. The first hypothesis is that higher levels of parental attachment will significantly predict the number of natural mentoring relationships. Second, it is expected that higher levels of parental attachment will significantly predict more help-seeking behaviors. Third, it is expected that help-seeking strategies will mediate the association between attachment to parents and the number of mentors. Finally, is expected that more natural mentoring relationships on campus will predict a more healthy college adjustment to college. Further, among students who have mentoring relationships, the role of the quality of these relationships in students’ adjustment will be examined. The quality of relationships will be examined via 1) the frequency of contact between mentors and mentees; 2) students’ perception of mentors’ support, and 3) the satisfaction with support provided by mentors. Structural equation modeling is used to test study hypotheses. Participants in this study identified a diversity of NMRs on campus (i.e., faculty, graduate students, advanced peer, academic advisor and staff). A linear pathway was found in which higher levels of attachment to parents was significantly associated with a higher likelihood of students’ seeking help when confronted with problems; and higher levels of help-seeking behaviors were significantly related with the presence of NMRs. Similarly, attachment to parents and help seeking behaviors were found to predict students’ healthier adjustment. However, the presence and the quality of NMRs (i.e. frequency, support and support satisfaction) were not found to significantly predict first year students’ college adjustment. The present study also shows that, for students with NMRs, the number of NMRs is positively related to their adjustment to college. That is, more NMRs reported by students is related to a healthier adjustment to college. The study also revealed that elements of mentoring quality (i.e., frequency of contact, support and support satisfaction) are highly related to each other and that frequency of contact in particular is significantly related to a healthier adjustment to college.