Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Higher Education

Committee Director

Alan Schwitzer

Committee Member

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Shana Pribesh


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between receipt of counseling services and college student academic performance as measured by cumulative grade point average (GPA) and degree completion within six-years. Archival data was obtained from the university counseling center records of clients and institutional student records, representing those whose first session of counseling occurred between the academic years 2000-01 through 2007-08. This study was a nonexperimental ex post facto examination of the data and used regression analyses to test the hypotheses. Gender and the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) rating at the intake session were used as control variables. The results revealed that the number of counseling sessions had a significant, positive relationship with GPA and degree completion. Receiving a higher number of counseling sessions predicted higher GPAS and increased the likelihood of graduation. Further, participants who had two or more courses of counseling were significantly more likely to have higher GPAs, but significantly less likely to graduate than participants who had one course of counseling. The results also showed that GAF ratings at the termination of counseling had a significant, positive relationship with GPA; however, GAF score counseling termination was not a significant predictor of degree completion. An examination of the type of treatment received, whether intake session or received treatment beyond the intake, showed a significant negative relationship with degree completion. Participants who had counseling treatment beyond the intake session were less likely to graduate in comparison to those who had only an intake session. One explanation of this finding is that the severity of a student's issue may have resulted in the need for additional sessions and also negatively impacted degree completion. Lastly, the results showed that participants who completed treatment at the university counseling center were proportionally the most likely to graduate in comparison to those who did not complete their treatment or were referred to other services. This study provided insight into how the counseling experience may have a relationship with college students' academic success in regards to the number of counseling sessions, course of counseling, GAF ratings at counseling termination, type of treatment received, and whether treatment was completed, incomplete, or referred. Implications for practice in higher education and recommendations for future research are discussed.