Keywords: Acclimation, resilience, adaptive, habituation, acculturation

Introduction to Adjustment

As students move from secondary education to collegiate work, they inherently experience a transitionary period that can sometimes be turbulent.  These adjustment periods are often unique for every student, and can be influenced by academics, personal troubles, or support issues.  Many different areas of student affairs (e.g. orientation, residence life, etc.) are often involved in these adjustment periods, and as such, may be concerned with making the process as smooth and safe as possible.  Research conducted by Baker and Siryk (1984) provided base work for understanding how students entering their first year of college adapt and respond to different situations.  In addition to understanding adjustment behaviors, these authors also provided evidence for the importance of measuring mental and social necessities that students may perceive as troublesome. 

When Would You Measure Adjustment?

Student affairs professionals may want to measure adjustment if their goal is to gauge:

  • Emotional responses to transitionary periods
  • Student perceptions of areas where they are lacking support or resources
  • Positive resources that students claim assisted their transition
  • Understanding of changing expectations between pre-collegiate life and collegiate life
  • Involvement with social activities outside of the classroom
  • Alignment of a student’s emotions and their behaviors towards being in college



Those wanting to measure adjustment may find it helpful to start their research by reviewing similar evidence-based literature:

Measuring Adjustment to College (Baker & Siryk, 1984)

  • These authors provide a short review of previously used adjustment measures and produce their own measure that assesses academic, social, personal, and emotional subscales. Their scale provides reliability and validity evidence for its ability to parse apart at-risk students from those adjusting well.


Emotional, Social, and Academic Adjustment of College Students: A longitudinal study of retention (Gerdes & Mallinckrodt, 1994)

  • This literature highlights that colleges have frequently focused on only academic outcomes and their relation to retention instead of looking at the student as a whole. Statistical analyses were performed to determine which traits helped differentiate students who do and don’t drop out of college.


Minority and Nonminority Adjustment to College: Differences or Similarities? (Eimers & Pike, 1997)

  • The authors provide evidence for differences between minority and majority students and how different factors influence their perseverance differently. For example, this research discusses how familial support, social integration, and adversity influences minority students. 


Frequently Used Instruments/Measures

The following instruments/measures have been used to assess adjustment:

  • College Inventory of Academic Adjustment (CIAA)
  • Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ)


Don’t Think This Construct Matches Your Assessment Goals? Check Out These Related Constructs:  Diversity, Engagement, Spiritual Awareness

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