Date of Award



© 2015 Carie Powers

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Michelle Collay

Second Advisor

Brianna Parsons

Third Advisor

Richard Schuttler


While numerous studies have looked at the influence of occupational stress on employees, less is known about the effects on employees in the for-profit higher education industry. Admissions advisors in particular must endure cyclical pressures to fill classes to ensure a college’s financial viability. A criterion sample of 12 admissions advisors employed at a for-profit nursing college with campuses located throughout the United States were interviewed. The participant criterion sample specifically sought to include advisors who enroll pre-licensure nursing degree-seeking students.

The purpose of the study was to acquire a richer understanding of nursing admissions advisors’ convergence of personal recognition of occupational stress and resulting experience(s) with proactive coping mechanisms. Research questions that guided this study were: (a) How do tenured nursing admissions advisors recognize and understand occupational stress in the workplace?, (b) How do tenured nursing admissions advisors recognize and understand proactive coping mechanisms in the workplace?, and (c) What proactive coping strategies do tenured nursing admissions advisors describe to mitigate stress in the workplace?

Five core thematic patterns with connected elements developed out of the data analysis method and interpretation process. The themes identified were (a) perceptions and descriptions of personal recognition of occupational stress, (b) job responsibility contributors, (c) work-life balance, (d) coping mechanisms applied within and outside of the workplace, and (e) care for the whole person and location of care. Additionally, five subthemes consist of (a) burden of performing well, (b) feeling of overwhelm, (c) time management/prioritizing, (d) differentiating proactive vs. reactive coping mechanisms, and (e) coping classifications: social/emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical.

Coping mechanisms varied according to admissions advisor’s personal perceived experience and encompassed a wide range of conclusions. Findings indicate (a) the sample criterion population was aware of their personal definition of occupational stress, (b) the gap from expected job responsibilities versus actual job responsibilities caused perceptions of occupational stress, (c) a lack of implementing time management tools existed, (d) proactivity was not a solid component of relieving occupational stress, and (e) identified capabilities of admissions advisors applying coping mechanisms to increase the richness and support for complete self-care.

Recommendations such as designing a corporate wellness center, effective training for higher education leaders in specific transformative leadership ideology, and the application of corporate-funded stress reduction workshops and related activities to assist in proactively reducing occupational stress in admissions advisors, especially during the cyclical times of enrollment were revealed. Findings and insight gained from this study identified the gap that permits educational organizations, their institutions, communities, and specifically individuals in the admissions department to better recognize the stressors of the position due to specific job responsibilities, culture, and environment.


Ed.D. Dissertation