Predictors of Successful College Adjustment for First-Year Students

Primary Author: Kathryn Bruzios

Faculty Sponsor: Brittany Cooper


Primary College/Unit: Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences

Category: Physical and Social Sciences

Campus: Pullman





First-year students face transitional challenges and may struggle with developing their own identity, making friends, and becoming independent. Securely attached students, and those who actively seek out social support tend to achieve better social adjustment to college. Research assessing links between students’ self-esteem and college adjustment remain inconclusive as does the impact of social media use. For first-year students, the pressure to adjust quickly and successfully is a strong force to bear. Therefore, the present study sought to examine possible predictors of successful college adjustment.


First-year students (n = 42) from a small liberal arts university, completed a series of assessments measuring possible predictors of college adjustment including parental and peer attachment, social support, self-esteem, and Facebook use. Secure individuals with better social support were expected to have better adjustment overall. Some motivations of using Facebook were also expected to play a role. Independent samples t-tests were conducted to examine whether dating status, student status, or sex were significant covariates. Zero order correlations and multiple regressions were conducted for each possible predictor.


Findings consistently supported that secure attachment with peers, higher self-esteem, and student status were predictors of a more successful adjustment to college. This research has implications for colleges and departments with an influential role in easing students into the college environment. Empirical support of successful adjustment predictors should be applied to interventions implemented in the first-year experience in future studies. Further attention to intricacies of residential and commuter students’ experiences is also warranted.