Document Type


Publication Date


Journal / Book Title

Journal of College Student Retention


Foster care alumni and other independent students experience considerable difficulties in pursuit of higher education, due to a lack of family support, financial problems, and the impacts of their experiences of maltreatment and system involvement. Nonetheless, many of these students are reluctant to reach out for help when they encounter academic or personal challenges. The purpose of the present study was to examine factors affecting help seeking behaviors among foster care alumni and other independent students enrolled in a four-year university. We conducted in-depth, individual interviews with 23 independent students ages 18-23, as well as 5 university staff connected to a campus-based support program serving these students. Thematic analysis of the qualitative interviews pointed to a range of individual, interpersonal, and institutional factors affecting students’ willingness to seek assistance on the college campus, with students’ perspectives sometimes diverging from staff’s perspectives. These findings may inform the development of effective campus-based services and supports for independent students enrolled in higher education institutions.


Published Citation

Sapiro, B., Shpiegel, S., *Ramirez Quiroz, S., *Ventola, M., *Nwankwo, O. H., & *Munyereyi, T. (2023). “It’s just hard reaching out”: Factors affecting help-seeking behaviors among independent college students. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice. Published online 5 March 2023.