Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2012

Capstone Advisor

Linda Stone Fish, Professor

Honors Reader

Deborah J. Monohan, Professor

Capstone Major

School of Social Work

Capstone College

Sport and Human Dynamics

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Applied Behavior Analysis | Personality and Social Contexts | Social Work


The purpose of the study of Birth Order and the Academic and Social Success of College Students was to examine the relationship between birth order and the academic and social experiences that students have during their college years. An ideal college experience involves students being actively engaged in what they are learning and having positive social interactions and support networks. Unfortunately, the college experiences of many students fall short of these expectations and they struggle to continue their pursuit of higher education. Depression has become a serious concern on college campuses. Understanding the birth orders that may create challenges in achieving academic or social success could reduce the number of college students having negative college experiences.

This study utilized an anonymous and voluntary survey where Syracuse University students were asked to evaluate their own personalities and college experiences as well as answer demographic questions such as age, gender, order of birth in family, and the genders and order of birth for their siblings. This study broke birth order down into two components: sibling role and gender role. Sibling role was defined as the role a person assumes as an older sibling, a younger sibling, neither, or both. Gender role was defined as the role a person assumes as a brother or sister in relation to other siblings, if any. Both sibling role and gender role were explored to determine if they influenced academic and social success.

The results of the survey were statistically analyzed using SPSS to determine how birth order may affect academic and social success in college. There were 505 responses to the survey from undergraduate students at Syracuse University. It was found that only-borns and middle-borns who have the same gender as all of their siblings held the lowest scores for academic and social success. It was also found that these two populations were least likely to view their birth orders favorably. These findings were then used to discuss potential challenges facing these college students and to explore how social workers can use this study about birth order to address these problems. Knowledge and understanding of birth order and its effects may help social workers address unmet needs or disadvantages that children may be experiencing as a result of their sibling and gender roles. Having a better understanding of the relationship between birth order and academic and social success can help social workers address unmet needs of children in order to give them the tools to enjoy positive college experiences.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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