A Comparison of first-year undergraduate and graduate international students' adjustment to college
Oyeniyi, Odunola Funmilayo
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International students constitute a growing student population in many colleges and universities in the United States. Adjusting to a new culture requires a new set of cultural patterns and behaviors that can be uncomfortable and sometimes stressful. Having a better understanding of how international students adjust to college in terms of resilience, relational skills, and acculturative stress, is important to university staff and the students alike, as it is the first step in improving the rate at which these students adjust to their new campus lives abroad. The purpose of this study was to investigate how resilience, relational skills, and acculturative stress, predict college adjustment of first-year undergraduate and graduate international students in the U.S. between August 2018 and May 2019. A combination of ninety-five undergraduate (n=40) and graduate (n=55) first-year international students participated in this study. The data was collected during the spring semester of 2019 from two universities in South Texas utilizing the Brief Resilience Scale (Smith et al., 2008), the Relational Skills Inventory (Smith, 2019), the Acculturative Stress Scale for International Students (Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994, 1998), and the Inventory of New College Student Adjustment (Watson & Lenz, 2018). Descriptive statistics and MANOVA were used to analyze the variables in this study and a standard multiple regression was employed to determine the unique contributions of resilience, relational skills, and acculturative stress on college adjustment. Additionally, Fisher’s z transformation was used to evaluate whether two regression models were significantly different. The results indicated a statistically significant difference between first-year undergraduate and graduate international students as related to college adjustment. Further analysis discovered significant relationships among predictor and criterion variables. Resilience, relational skills, and acculturative stress significantly explained 55% of the variance in the adjustment of these international students. The comparison of these 3 factors to each other revealed no statistically significant differences, which indicates there are no distinctions in model fit between undergraduate and graduate students. The results of this study have practical implications for college educators, counselors, and administrators which may help universities meet the needs of first-year international students.