The purpose of this study was to investigate second-year college student wellness behaviors and their relationship to academic achievement. The ten constructs of wellness within Hettler's model of wellness are physical fitness, nutrition, self-care and safety, environmental wellness, social awareness, emotional awareness and sexuality, emotional management, intellectual wellness, occupational wellness, and spirituality and values. Additionally, the students' wellness behaviors and academic achievement were compared by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (parent education and occupation and student belief about household money). The setting for this research was a small urban religiously affiliated college in New York City.
The results of this research study revealed that second-year college student wellness behaviors when compared by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status were a factor for some wellness behaviors, but not all. The results also identified the complexity of measuring socioeconomic status for college students, especially during difficult economic times.
Female students scored higher than male students on all of the wellness constructs, including overall wellness. A significant difference was revealed for five of the constructs, self-care and safety, environmental wellness, emotional awareness and sexuality, emotional management, and occupational wellness. For one construct, physical fitness, both female and male students reported mean scores that were within the needs improvement range.
Wellness behaviors compared on race/ethnicity revealed mean scores higher for White, second-year college students than Black/African-American students for all but two of the wellness behaviors—social awareness and spirituality, and values. The scores for physical fitness and nutrition showed room for improvement for Black/African-American students. White students' mean scores fell in the lower range of the good category for both constructs.
All students who participated scored within the good range for overall wellness, regardless of their demographics. Consistently across all groups, the two wellness constructs that were identified as needing improvement were physical fitness and nutrition. The second-year college students who reported wellness behaviors, revealed that nutrition moderately predicted academic achievement, and that nutrition, emotional management, physical fitness, and occupational wellness were associated with academic achievement.
The study supported the overall need for additional research on the experiences of second year college students and their academic journey towards persistence and graduation. Additionally, the results reveal the importance of developing culturally competent wellness programs. Although the results were moderate in their identification of wellness as a factor for academic achievement, Boyer "urged that all students be helped to understand that wellness is a prerequisite to all else" (p. 186).