A SELF-DETERMINATION THEORY PERSPECTIVE ON ADJUSTMENT TO COLLEGE
Bryan, Jennifer L.
MetadataShow full item record
Emerging adulthood, ages 18-25, is filled with transition and has been described as the most changing times of one’s life. This is also when two-thirds of the American population enters college, however, many dropout before completion of their desired degree. There is little evidence as to the existence of possible differences in adjustment trajectories or determinants of and influences on such trajectories. Thus, there is a gap in our theoretical understanding of the adjustment to college process. This study applied self-determination theory to provide theoretical insight to the adjustment to college process specifically paying attention to how and why maladjustment may occur. It was hypothesized that intrinsically motivated, authentic students and those with high basic need satisfaction at baseline would have better adjustment to college and less alcohol related problems at the one month follow-up. Further, those who are more likely to suppress their emotions and self-conceal would have worse adjustment to college and more alcohol related problems at the one month follow-up. Participants were recruited in diverse departments at the University of Houston. Three-hundred and fifty eight (Mean age = 21.82, SD = 5.520, 72.3% female) participants completed the baseline questionnaire and the follow-up one month later. All hypotheses were analyzed using multiple regression with the baseline SDT, concealment/suppression and baseline outcome variables entered as predictors of the time two outcome variables. Results revealed that baseline motivation and general needs satisfaction were positively associated with adjustment to college, while self-concealment was negatively associated with adjustment to college at time 2. However, only self-concealment remains a significant predictor when controlling for baseline adjustment to college. Alcohol related problems at time 2 were negatively associated with baseline motivation, authenticity, as well as positively associated with self-concealment. When controlling for baseline alcohol related problems results remained, however, self-concealment was no longer a significant predictor. The proposed research sheds light on our theoretical understanding of the adjustment to college process. These findings have practical utility and may inform development and implementation of interventions and programs targeting adjustment to college and alcohol related problems among college students.