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Risk and Protective Factors Explaining First-Year College Adjustment

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A correlational design was employed to determine how risk and protective factors relate to firstyear college adjustment. In total, 348 students completed an online survey about their experience adjusting to college. Risk factors (i.e., psychiatric medication, fearful–avoidant attachment, and anxious–preoccupied attachment) negatively impacted college adjustment; while protective factors (i.e., resilience, academic selfefficacy, and optimism) enhanced college adjustment. The risk factors, protective factors, and control variables analyzed in this study accounted for 54% of the variance. Notably, risk factors lost their significance after adjusting for protective factors. A major clinical implication of these findings is that college mental health professionals must assess for protective factors and enhance these strengths in order to improve firstyear college adjustment, which is likely to impact graduation rates.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition is a semiannual refereed journal providing current research on the first college year and other significant student transitions. The primary purpose of the Journal is to disseminate empirical research findings on student transition issues that inform practice in all sectors of postsecondary education, such as explorations into the academic, personal, and social experiences (including outcomes related to success, learning, and development) of students at a range of transition points throughout the college years; transition issues unique to specific populations (e.g., non-traditional, traditional, historically underrepresented students, transfer students, commuters, part-time students); and explorations of faculty development, curriculum, and pedagogical innovations connected to college transitions.
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