Psychological and sociocultural adjustment of first-year international students: Trajectories and predictors

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Abstract

Despite the increasing number of international students in U.S. universities, the temporal course of international students' adjustment has not been adequately tested, and only 1 study to date has examined multiple trajectories of adjustment. Therefore, the first goal of the current study was to explore multiple trajectories of adjustment among first-year international students using a broader range of adjustment measures (i.e., psychological distress, positive psychological adjustment, sociocultural adjustment). The second goal was to identify important predictors of trajectories. A wide range of individual and interpersonal predictor variables was examined, including academic stress and perceived control over academic stress, personality, social relationships, and language-related factors. Undergraduate and graduate international students in their first semester at a large midwestern university participated in this 5-wave longitudinal study (N = 248) that spanned 1 academic year. Multiple trajectories emerged, and the trajectories varied across the 3 adjustment measures. Average trajectories masked the trajectories of small groups of students who maintained or increased in terms of adjustment difficulties across outcomes. Contrary to popular theories, the U-shape adjustment trajectory (characterized by initial euphoria, distress, and then recovery) did not emerge. The most consistent predictors of adjustment trajectories were perceived present control over academic stress and Neuroticism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-452
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Volume62
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Keywords

  • Adjustment
  • International students
  • Longitudinal
  • Perceived control
  • Trajectory modeling

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