Factors Related to Freshman Adjustment to College

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies and Research

First Advisor

Arthur Southerland

Advisor Department

Educational Studies and Research


Attrition for students during the first year of college is a source of concern for many institutions of higher education. Most of this attrition is due to a lack of adjustment to the college environment. The focus of this study was to determine factors related to freshman adjustment to college. This study used the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ) to measure student adjustment in the five areas of overall adjustment, academic adjustment, social adjustment, personal-emotional adjustment, and institutional attachment. Subjects were first-semester freshmen at a four-year, public institution of higher learning. Group means on all five areas were contrasted using Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA). Groups were formed by participation in cocurricular activities, employment, gender, race, local residence, freshman orientation participation, first-generation college attendance, and Greek affiliation. Results of the analyses indicated that there were significant differences concerning the following independent variables and areas of adjustment: (1) participation in cocurricular activities (all five adjustment areas); (2) Greek affiliation (overall and social adjustment; institutional attachment); (3) local residence (social adjustment and institutional attachment); (4) employment (social adjustment and institutional attachment); (5) race (social adjustment); (6) gender (personal-emotional adjustment); and (7) the interaction effect of gender and Greek affiliation (social adjustment and institutional attachment). The study showed no significant results regarding analyses using the independent variables of first-generation college attendance and freshman orientation participation. In adjustment areas where significance was observed, the following results were obtained regarding comparisons of group means: (1) Subjects who participated in cocurricular activities earned higher group mean scores than non-active subjects; (2) Greek participants obtained higher group means than non-Greeks; (3) Residence-hall students earned higher group means than commuter students; (4) Non-employed students obtained higher group means than employed students; (5) White participants earned a higher group mean score than Black participants; and (6) Males obtained a greater group mean score than females. Regarding the interaction effect of gender and Greek affiliation, Greek males obtained the highest group mean for social adjustment, and Greek females earned the highest group mean concerning institutional attachment.