Advertisement

Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 133–165 | Cite as

Adjustment to College as Measured by the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire: A Quantitative Review of its Structure and Relationships with Correlates and Consequences

  • Marcus Credé
  • Sarah Niehorster
Review

Abstract

This paper presents a meta-analytic review (k = 237, N = 44,668) of the adjustment to college literature. The review, based on studies using the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire, is organized around three primary themes: (1) the structure of students’ adjustment to college, (2) the relationship of adjustment to college constructs with possible antecedents and correlates, and (3) the relationship of adjustment to college constructs with college grades and college retention. Meta-analytic results indicate that adjustment to college is multidimensional, predictive of college grades, and an unusually good predictor of college retention. Adjustment to college is also shown to be moderately related to individual traits, social support, and students’ relationships with their parents. Weaker relationships are evident with demographic variables, prior achievement, coping approaches, and variables that reflect students’ psychological independence from their parents. Theoretical and practical implications for the study of students’ adjustment to college, academic performance, and retention are discussed.

Keywords

Adjustment to college College retention College GPA Meta-analysis 

References

  1. Abe, J. D. M., Talbot, D. M., & Geelhoed, R. J. (1998). Effects of a peer program on international student adjustment. Journal of College Student Development, 39, 539–547.Google Scholar
  2. Ackerman, P. L. (1988). Determinants of individual differences during skill acquisition: Cognitive abilities and information processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 117, 288–318.Google Scholar
  3. Adams, K.S. (2008). Visibility of disability, attributional style, psychosocial adjustment to disability, and self-advocacy skill in relation to student adaptation to college. Unpublished dissertation. Florida State University.Google Scholar
  4. Anton, W. D., & Reed, J. R. (1991). College adjustment scales: Professional manual. Odessa: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  5. Aspinwall, L. G., & Taylor, S. E. (1992). Modeling cognitive adaptation: A longitudinal investigation of the impact of individual differences and coping on college adjustment and performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 989–1003.Google Scholar
  6. Baker, R. W., & Siryk, B. (1984). Measuring adjustment to college. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 31, 179–189.Google Scholar
  7. Baker, R. W., & Siryk, B. (1986). Exploratory intervention with a scale measuring adjustment to college. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 33, 31–38.Google Scholar
  8. Baker, R.W., & Siryk, B. (1989). The Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire: A WPS Test Report. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services. Retrieved online on 3 March, 2011 at: http://portal.wpspublish.com/pdf/sacq.pdf
  9. Baker, R. W., & Siryk, B. (1999). SACQ: Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire manual. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  10. Barrett, G. V., Caldwell, M. S., & Alexander, R. A. (1985). The concept of dynamic criteria: A critical reanalysis. Personnel Psychology, 38, 41–56.Google Scholar
  11. Barritt, L. S. (1966). Note: The consistency of first-semester college grade point average. Journal of Educational Measurement, 3, 261–262.Google Scholar
  12. Baumgart, N. L., & Johnstone, J. N. (1977). Attrition at an Australian university: A case study. Journal of Higher Education, 48, 553–570.Google Scholar
  13. Baysden, M. F. (2002). International and United States citizen student adaptation to college, opinions about mental illness, and attitudes toward seeking professional counseling help. Unpublished dissertation, Oklahoma State University.Google Scholar
  14. Bean, J. (1980). Dropouts and turnover: The synthesis and test of a casual model of student attrition. Research in Higher Education, 12, 155–187.Google Scholar
  15. Bean, J. P., & Bradley, R. K. (1986). Untangling the satisfaction-performance relationship for college students. Journal of Higher Education, 57, 393–412.Google Scholar
  16. Bean, J. P., & Metzner, B. S. (1985). A conceptual model of nontraditional undergraduate student attrition. Review of Educational Research, 55, 485–540.Google Scholar
  17. Becker, M. (2008). Personality and social network variables as predictors of adjustment: The transition from high school to college. Unpublished dissertation, Boston University.Google Scholar
  18. Bendig, A. W. (1953). The reliability of letter grades. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 13, 311–321.Google Scholar
  19. Beyers, W., & Goossens, L. (2002). Concurrent and predictive validity of the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire in a sample of European freshman students. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 62, 527–538.Google Scholar
  20. Bickley, P. G., Keith, T. Z., & Wolfle, L. M. (1995). The three-stratum theory of cognitive abilities: Test of the structure of intelligence across the life-span. Intelligence, 20, 309–328.Google Scholar
  21. Boesel, D., & Fredland, E. (1999). College for all? Is there too much emphasis on getting a 4-year college degree? Research synthesis. Washington: National Library of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  22. Borow, H. (1947). The measurement of academic adjustment. Journal of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars, 22, 274–286.Google Scholar
  23. Brawer, F. B. (1996). Retention–attrition in the nineties. Eric Digest, No. ED0-JC-96-06.Google Scholar
  24. Brazziel, M. E. (1982). The college freshman adjustment scale. Journal of the NAWDAC, 45, 27–33.Google Scholar
  25. Brooks, J. H., & DuBois, D. L. (1995). Individual and environmental predictors of adjustment during the first year of college. Journal of College Student Development, 36, 347–360.Google Scholar
  26. Burgess, E. (1956). Personality factors and over- and under-achievers in engineering. Journal of Educational Psychology, 47, 89–99.Google Scholar
  27. Cabrera, A. F., Nora, A., & Castañeda, M. B. (1993). College persistence: Structural equations modeling test of an integrated model of student retention. Journal of Higher Education, 64, 123–139.Google Scholar
  28. Cabrera, A. F., Nora, A., Terenzini, P. T., Pascarella, E., & Hagedorn, L. S. (1999). Campus racial climate and the adjustment of college students. The Journal of Higher Education, 70, 134–160.Google Scholar
  29. Caplan, S. M., Henderson, C. E., Henderson, J., & Fleming, D. L. (2002). Socioemotional factors contributing to adjustment among early-entrance college students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 46, 124–134.Google Scholar
  30. Chartrand, J. M. (1992). An empirical test of a model of nontraditional student adjustment. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 39, 193–202.Google Scholar
  31. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  32. Cohen, S., & Willis, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98, 310–357.Google Scholar
  33. Coyle, T. R., & Pillow, D. R. (2008). SAT and ACT predict college GPA after removing g. Intelligence, 36, 719–729.Google Scholar
  34. Credé, M., & Kuncel, N. R. (2008). Study habits, skills, and attitudes: The third pillar supporting collegiate academic performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 425–453.Google Scholar
  35. Credé, M., & Niehorster, S. (2009). Individual difference influences on self-focused and other-focused counterproductive student behaviors. Personality and Individual Differences, 47, 769–776.Google Scholar
  36. Curran, P. J., West, S. G., & Finch, J. (1996). The robustness of test statistics to non-normality and specification error in confirmatory factor analysis. Psychological Methods, 1, 16–29.Google Scholar
  37. DeSena, P. A. (1964). The role of consistency in identifying characteristics of three levels of achievement. Personnel and Guidance Journal, 43, 145–149.Google Scholar
  38. Engle, J., & Theokas, C. (2010). Top gap closers: Some public four-year colleges and universities have made good progress in closing graduation-rate gaps. The Education Trust. Published online at http://www.edtrust.org/sites/edtrust.org/files/publications/files/CRO%20Brief%20%28Top%20Gap%20Closers%29_0.pdf
  39. Fassig, E. I. (2003). Attachment and resilience as predictors of adjustment to college in college freshmen. Unpublished dissertation, University of Northern Colorado.Google Scholar
  40. Field, A. P. (2001). Meta-analysis of correlation coefficients: A Monte Carlo comparison of fixed- and random-effects methods. Psychological Methods, 6, 161–180.Google Scholar
  41. Folkman, S. (1984). Personal control and stress and coping processes: A theoretical analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 839–852.Google Scholar
  42. Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. S. (1985). If it changes it must be process: Study of emotion and coping during three phases of a college examination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 150–170.Google Scholar
  43. French, J. R. P., Jr., Rodgers, W. L., & Cobb, S. (1974). Adjustment as person-environment fit. In G. Coelho, D. Hamburg, & J. Adams (Eds.), Coping and adaptation (pp. 316–333). New York: Basic.Google Scholar
  44. Furr, R. S., Westefeld, S. J., McConnell, N. G., & Jenkins, M. J. (2001). Suicide and depression among college students: A decade later. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 32, 97–100.Google Scholar
  45. Garriott, P. O., Love, K. M., & Tyler, K. (2008). Anti-Black racism, self-esteem, and the adjustment of White students in higher education. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 1, 45–58.Google Scholar
  46. Gelso, C. J., Osterhouse, R., & Bodden, J. L. (1971). Nonintellective factors in improvement during an educational skills course. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 18, 503–504.Google Scholar
  47. Hall, S. M., & Brannick, M. T. (2002). Comparison of two random effects methods of meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 377–389.Google Scholar
  48. Harris (1991). The college student experience: How social support and loneliness relate to adaptation and attrition. Unpublished dissertation, George Washington University.Google Scholar
  49. Hedges, L. V., & Olkin, I. (1985). Statistical methods for meta-analysis. Orlando: Academic.Google Scholar
  50. Hertel, J. B. (2002). College student generational status: Similarities, differences, and factors in college adjustment. Psychological Record, 52, 3–18.Google Scholar
  51. Hezlett, S. A., Kuncel, N. R., Vey, M. A., Ahart, A., Ones, D. S., Campbell, J. P., & Camara, W. (2001). The predictive validity of the SAT: A comprehensive meta-analysis. In D. S. Ones & S. A. Hezlett (Eds.), Predicting performance: The interface of I/O psychology and educational research. San Diego: Symposia presented at the annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.Google Scholar
  52. Hickman, G. P., & Andrews, D. W. (2003). Humor and college adjustment: The predictive nature of humor, academic achievement, authoritative parenting style on the initial adjustment of male and female first-year college students. Journal of the First-Year Experience, 15, 61–82.Google Scholar
  53. Hinderlie, H. H., & Kenny, M. (2002). Attachment, social support, and college adjustment among black students at predominantly white universities. Journal of College Student Development, 43, 327–340.Google Scholar
  54. Hingson, R., Heeren, T., Winter, M., & Wechsler, H. (2005). Magnitude of alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18–24: Changes from 1998 to 2001. Annual Review of Public Health, 26, 259–279.Google Scholar
  55. Hoffman, J. A. (1984). Psychological separation of late adolescents from their parents. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 31, 170–178.Google Scholar
  56. Horn, L., & Carroll, C. D. (2006). Placing college graduation rates in context: How 4-year college graduation rates vary with selectivity and the size of low-income enrollment. Institute of Education Sciences: National Centre for Education Statistics.Google Scholar
  57. Humphreys, L. G. (1979). The construct of general intelligence. Intelligence, 3, 105–120.Google Scholar
  58. Hunter, J. E., & Schmidt, F. L. (2004). Methods of meta-analysis: Correcting error and bias in research findings (2nd ed.). Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  59. Jackson, L.M., Pratt, M.W., Hunsberger, B., & Pancer, S.M. (2005). Optimism as a mediator of the relation between perceived parental authoritativeness and adjustment among adolescents: Finding the sunny side of the street. Social Development, 14, 273–304.Google Scholar
  60. Jantzer, A. M. (2006). Retrospective reports of bullying victimization, college adjustment, and the role of coping. Unpublished dissertation, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.Google Scholar
  61. Just, H.D. (1999). Freshman adjustment and retention: Combining traditional risk factors with psychosocial variables. Unpublished dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin.Google Scholar
  62. Karasick, S. (2004). Individuation, differentiation, and psychological adjustment in Orthodox Jewish college students. Unpublished dissertation, Fordham University.Google Scholar
  63. Kenny, M. E., & Stryker, S. (1996). Social network characteristics and college adjustment among racially and ethnically diverse first-year students. Journal of College Student Development, 37, 649–658.Google Scholar
  64. Kim, J., Rapee, R. M., Oh, K. J., & Moon, H. (2008). Retrospective report of social withdrawal during adolescence and current maladjustment in young adulthood: Cross-cultural comparisons between Australian and South Korean students. Journal of Adolescence, 31, 543–563.Google Scholar
  65. Klem, J. (2008). The impact of indirect aggression on college student adjustment. Unpublished dissertation, Auburn University.Google Scholar
  66. Kobrin, J.L., Patterson, B.F., Shaw, E.J.,, Mattern, K.D., & Barbuti, S.M. (2008). Validity of the SAT for predicting first-year college grade point average. Research Report No. 2008–5. The College Board, New York.Google Scholar
  67. Kramer, H. C. (1980). Monitoring freshman perceptions of college. Journal of the National Association for Women Deans, Administrators, and Counselors, 44, 7–13.Google Scholar
  68. Lapsley, D. K., Rice, K. G., & Shadid, G. E. (1989). Psychological separation and adjustment to college. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 36, 286–294.Google Scholar
  69. Lazarus, R. S. (1993a). From psychological stress to the emotions: A history of changing outlooks. Annual Review of Psychology, 44, 1–21.Google Scholar
  70. Lazarus, R. S. (1993b). Coping theory and research: Past, present, and future. Psychosomatic Medicine, 55, 234–247.Google Scholar
  71. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress appraisal and coping. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  72. LePine, J. A., LePine, M. A., & Jackson, C. (2004). Challenge and hindrance stress: Relationships with exhaustion, motivation to learn, and learning performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 883–891.Google Scholar
  73. Lewinsohn, P. M., Hops, H., Roberts, R. E., Seeley, J. R., & Andrews, J. A. (1993). Adolescent psychopathology: I. Prevalence and incidence of depression and other DSM-III—R disorders in high school students. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 133–144.Google Scholar
  74. Loeb, J. (2006). The status of the female faculty in the US: Thirty-five years with equal opportunity legislation. Management Revue, 17, 157–180.Google Scholar
  75. Lopez, F. G. (1991). Patterns of family conflict and their relation to college student adjustment. Journal of Counseling and Development, 69, 257–260.Google Scholar
  76. Lopez, F. G., Campbell, V. C., & Watkins, C. E. (1986). Depression, psychological separation, and college adjustment: An investigation of sex differences. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 33, 52–56.Google Scholar
  77. Lynch, M., & Engle, J. (2010a).Big gaps, small gaps: Some colleges and universities do better than other in graduating African-American students. The Education Trust. Retrieved online on August 8, 2010 at: http://sparkaction.org/resources/38260
  78. Lynch, M., & Engle, J. (2010b).Big gaps, small gaps: Some colleges and universities do better than other in graduating Hispanic students. The Education Trust. Retrieved online on August 8, 2010 at: http://sparkaction.org/resources/38261
  79. Mathis, M., & Lecci, L. (1999). Hardiness and college adjustment: Identifying students in need of services. Journal of College Student Development, 40, 305–309.Google Scholar
  80. Maton, K. I. (1989). The stress-buffering role of spiritual support: Cross-sectional and prospective investigations. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 28, 310–323.Google Scholar
  81. Mattanah, J. F., Hancock, G. R., & Brand, B. L. (2004). Parental attachment, separation-individuation, and college student adjustment: A structural equation analysis of mediational effects. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 51, 213–225.Google Scholar
  82. Matthews, T.B. (1998). The influence of parental attachment and coping style on the adjustment to college. Unpublished dissertation, Syracuse University.Google Scholar
  83. Mattern, K.D., & Patterson, B.F. (2009). Is performance on the SAT related to college retention. Research Report No. 2009–7. The College Board, New York.Google Scholar
  84. McCornack, R. L. (1956). A criticism of studies comparing weighting methods. Journal of Applied Psychology, 40, 343–345.Google Scholar
  85. McDonald, S. D., & Vrana, S. R. (2007). Interracial social comfort and its relationship to adjustment to college. Journal of Negro Education, 76, 130–141.Google Scholar
  86. McKay, S. E. (1990). Psychosocial competence, adjustment to college, and academic success of learning-disabled community college students. Unpublished dissertation, North Carolina State University.Google Scholar
  87. Mooney, S. P., Sherman, M. F., & Lo Presto, C. T. (1991). Academic locus of control, self-esteem, and perceived distance from home as predictors of college adjustment. Journal of Counseling and Development, 69, 445–448.Google Scholar
  88. Munro, B. H. (1981). Dropouts from higher education: Path analysis of a national sample. American Educational Research Journal, 18, 131–141.Google Scholar
  89. Napoli, A.R., & Wortman, P.M. (1997). Psychosocial factors related to retention and early departure of two-year community college students. Unpublished paper, retrieved online on July 22, 2010 at http://instsrv.sunysuffolk.edu/rhe97.htm
  90. Nora, A., & Cabrera, A. F. (1996). The role of perceptions of prejudice and discrimination on the adjustment of minority students to college. Journal of Higher Education, 67, 119–148.Google Scholar
  91. Oswald, F. L., Schmitt, N., Kim, B. H., Ramsay, L. J., & Gillespie, M. A. (2004). Developing a biodata measure and situational judgment inventory as predictors of college success. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 187–208.Google Scholar
  92. Pascarella, E. (1980). Student-faculty informal contact and college outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 50, 545–595.Google Scholar
  93. Petersen, I., Louw, J., & Dumont, K. (2009). Adjustment to university and academic performance among disadvantaged students in South Africa. Educational Psychology, 29, 99–115.Google Scholar
  94. Popham, W.J., & Moore, M.R. (1960). A note on the validity of Borow’s College Inventory of Academic Adjustment. Journal of Educational Research, 54, 115–117.Google Scholar
  95. Puher, M.A., (2009). The big five personality traits as predictors of adjustment to college. Unpublished dissertation, Villanova University.Google Scholar
  96. Reilly, R. R., & Warech, M. A. (1993). The validity and fairness of alternatives to cognitive tests. In L. C. Wing & B. R. Gifford (Eds.), Policy issues in employment testing (pp. 131–224). Boston: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  97. Rice, K. G., Vergara, D. T., & Aldea, M. A. (2006). Cognitive-affective mediators of perfectionism and college student adjustment. Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 463–473.Google Scholar
  98. Robbins, S. B., Lese, K. P., & Herrick, S. M. (1993). Interactions between goal instability and social support on college freshman adjustment. Journal of Counseling and Development, 71, 343–348.Google Scholar
  99. Robbins, S. B., Lauver, K., Le, H., Davis, D., Langley, R., & Carlstrom, A. (2004). Do psychosocial and study skills factors predict college outcomes? A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 261–288.Google Scholar
  100. Robbins, S. B., Allen, J., Casillas, A., Peterson, C. H., & Le, H. (2006). Unraveling the differential effects of motivational, and skills, social, and self-management measures from traditional predictors of college outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 598–616.Google Scholar
  101. Roberts, B. W., Chernyshenko, O., Stark, S., & Goldberg, L. (2005). The structure of conscientiousness: An empirical investigation based on seven major personality questionnaires. Personnel Psychology, 58, 103–139.Google Scholar
  102. Rosenthal, R. (1979). The “file drawer problem” and tolerance for null results. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 638–641.Google Scholar
  103. Rosenthal, R. (1984). Meta-analysis procedures for social research. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  104. Rummel, A., Acton, D., Costello, S., & Pielow, G. (1999). Is all retention good? An empirical study. College Student Journal, 33, 241–246.Google Scholar
  105. Schmidt, F. L., & Le, H. (2004). Hunter & Schmidt’s meta-analysis programs. IA: The University of Iowa.Google Scholar
  106. Schneider, M. E., & Ward, D. J. (2003). The role of ethnic identification and perceived social support in Latinos’ adjustment to college. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 25, 539–554.Google Scholar
  107. Schultheiss, D. E. P., & Blustein, D. L. (1994). Role of adolescent–parent relationships in college student development and adjustment. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 41, 248–255.Google Scholar
  108. Sennett, J., Finchilescu, G., Gibson, K., & Strauss, R. (2003). Adjustment of black students at a historically white South African university. Educational Psychology, 23, 107–116.Google Scholar
  109. Shilkret, R. (2003). Psychodynamic studies of college adjustment. Distinguished lecture series. Chester, PA: Widener University Graduate Clinical Psychology Program.Google Scholar
  110. Spady, W. (1970). Dropouts from higher education: An interdisciplinary review and synthesis. Interchange, 1, 64–85.Google Scholar
  111. Stricker, L. J., Rock, D. A., Burton, N. W., Muraki, E., & Jirele, T. J. (1994). Adjusting college grade point average criteria for variations in grading standards: A comparison of methods. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 178–183.Google Scholar
  112. Taylor, M. A., & Pastor, D. A. (2007). A confirmatory factor analysis of the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 67, 1002–1018.Google Scholar
  113. US Census Bureau (2006). Current Population Survey, October 2005: School Enrollment Supplement File. Retrieved online (6 August, 2010) at: http://www.census.gov/apsd/techdoc/cps/cpsoct05.pdf
  114. Tinto, V. (1975). Dropouts from higher education: A theoretical synthesis of the recent literature. A Review of Educational Research, 45, 89–125.Google Scholar
  115. Whetzel, D. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (1988). Reliability of validity generalization databases. Psychological Reports, 63, 131–134.Google Scholar
  116. Wintre, M. G., & Sugar, L. A. (2000). Relationships with parents, personality, and the university transition. Journal of College Student Development, 41, 202–214.Google Scholar
  117. Wintre, M. G., Gates, S. K. E., Pancer, W. M., Pratt, M. S., Polivy, J., et al. (2008). The transition to university: The student–university match (SUM) questionnaire. Journal of Adolescent Research, 23, 745–769.Google Scholar
  118. Wright, E. O. (1973). A study of student leaves of absence. Journal of Higher Education, 44, 235–247.Google Scholar
  119. Zakzanis, K. K. (1998). The reliability of meta-analytic review. Psychological Reports, 83, 215.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity at Albany—State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA

Personalised recommendations