Publication Date



School of Behavioral Sciences


Psychology: Adult Development


Development, Educational Psychology, Goal Orientation, Stress, Locus of Control, Student Success


Developmental Psychology


Recent literature has sought to identify variables which can positively affect at-risk student populations when students start college. In conjunction with high school achievement, motivational variables such as locus of control and goal orientation are strong predictors of student success at a university. Students with a strong internal locus of control and reported goals towards mastering content tend to view themselves as responsible for their work and do well academically. Little research has examined the presence of these variables in high-achieving populations. Although it would seem that students would maintain their attributions for their own success throughout school, locus of control and goal orientation is considered to be fluid and, thus, capable of changing.

To understand the experiences of high achieving students, 54 freshmen and senior honors’ college students were surveyed during the 2015 spring semester. Participants were questioned about their perceived academic competence by responding to a survey that contained the Academic Locus of Control (ALC) and Academic Goal Orientation-Revised (AGO-R), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MPSS). Students’ scores were grouped according to gender and year in school and later analyzed to understand whether demographic variables could influence scores. Analyses suggested that while slight differences existed within groups, the sample was mostly uniform and not impacted by demographic differences. Future research should analyze the role of merit-based scholarships on student well-being.