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Entrapment in Higher Education
Counseling and Educational Psychology
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The cost of a college education has risen exponentially over the past few decades and is reflected in student loan debt, which now exceeds $1.6 trillion in the United States alone (Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 2023). Undergraduate students may feel trapped in their degree program, as changing majors would result in additional time and money invested. Entrapment refers to the cognition of being stuck in an aversive or less-than-desirable situation. Often researched in connection with psychological wellbeing and suicidal ideation, recent studies have begun to explore entrapment in the workplace and amongst college students. This study explores entrapment among undergraduate college students enrolled in four-year colleges and universities in the United States, and examines possible associations between entrapment, academic major satisfaction, and scores on the planned happenstance career inventory (PHCI). Statistical analyses were run using data from 393 U.S. undergraduate students. Results indicated significantly higher entrapment among amongst students attending public universities, non-binary and transgender students, and students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds (RQ1), significant negative correlations between academic major satisfaction and entrapment (RQ2), and significant negative correlations between scores on the PHCI and entrapment (RQ3). Implications indicate the need for continued career counseling and exploration with college students. Limitations and future directions are discussed.