Adjustment Issues of Turkish College Students Studying in the United States

Article excerpt

This study examined the adjustment issues of Turkish college students in the U.S. The Instrument of Student Adjustment Strain (ISAS) was used in the study. The participants were 79 college Turkish students. Results indicated that those who had better English language skills reported having higher GPA's; older students reported having higher GPA's; and younger students reported performing better in the TOEFL exam. In addition, as the students progressed in their studies, they reported having higher GPA's. Other findings showed that younger students and students who had better Reading and Writing proficiency in English, reported adjusting better. The students that received a Turkish governmental scholarship, however, reported having more adjustment problems. A simultaneous regression analysis revealed that only Reading-Writing Proficiency in English language and Age significantly contributed to the adjustment level. The results also indicated that the internal consistency of the ISAS was high (alpha=.89).

Adjustment to a new culture is considered an important psychological process due to its effects on the performance and functioning of the individual (Robie & Ryan, 1996). International students in the United States may face various cross-cultural adjustment problems such as adapting to new roles, academic difficulties, language difficulties, financial problems, homesickness, lack of study skills, and lack of assertiveness (Charles & Steward, 1991; Hayes & Lin, 1994; Barratt & Huba, 1994; Parr, Bradley, & Bingi, 1992). They need to learn a wide range of culturally defined and typically unfamiliar roles in a short time while they are under considerable stress (Pedersen 1991). Once international students learn and adapt to the requirements and roles of the new culture, however, their experience is likely to be successful. Not being able to adapt, on the other hand, may affect their psychological (e.g. stress, depression) and physical (e.g. headaches) health, which may present serious obstacles to the achievement of their educational objectives. It is believed that the faster international students adapt to the new culture, the better they will do academically (Charles & Steward, 1991).

The students' language proficiency in English and their study skills affect their academic performance and their general adjustment level as well. Inability to speak English fluently is a primary restraint to adjusting academically or becoming socially involved in American society. Research shows that international students who report that their use of English is sufficient on arrival in the U.S. are significantly better adapted than those with insufficient English skills (Hayes & Lin, 1994; Barratt & Huba, 1994). Also, students' social interaction and adjustment level increase, as they become better in English. Stoynoff (1997) examined the factors associated with the academic achievement of freshmen international students and found that study skills and language proficiency were correlated with the students' academic performance. Students that effectively integrated assistance from their peers and professors into their learning had higher academic performance than those who did not. Higher achievers were also better at test taking, spent more time studying, and remained up-to-date in their courses. These findings suggest that advisors, counselors, and professors need to encourage international students to examine and improve their study skills.

Assertiveness and displaying initiative is another problem for many international students, especially for oriental females (Althen, 1991). Their passivity can handicap them in their relationships with their teachers, advisors, landlords, and classmates. Not being able to say no to friends, to inquire about an assignment with a professor, or to stand up for oneself may hinder the learning of survival skills in the new culture.

Parr, Bradley, and Bingi (1992) examined the concerns of international students and how these concerns were related to their feelings. …