Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Coping Styles, Social Support, Relational Self-Construal, and Resilience in Predicting Students' Adjustment to University Life

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Coping Styles, Social Support, Relational Self-Construal, and Resilience in Predicting Students' Adjustment to University Life

Article excerpt

According to data from the Assessment Selection and Placement Center, each year approximately two million students take tests in order to gain admission into universities. From among these students, almost one million are placed in either twoor four-year majors in Turkey (Ögrenci Seçme ve Yerlestirme Merkezi [ÖSYM], 2015). Being away from the families for what is most likely the first time, students must deal with many issues and challenges during this period. During this process, freshmen face many new challenges, such as learning how to be an autonomous adult, adjusting in an environment considerably different from that which they had experienced in high school, standing on their own two feet, managing their finances, and taking care of a variety of their own basic needs (washing clothes, ironing, cooking, etc.) that their parents used to, not to mention adjusting to the university and its culture (R. W. Baker, McNeil, & Siryk, 1985; Fassig, 2003). In addition, when students are faced with intense academic study (S. R. Baker, 2004) and the process of building new friendships (Salami, 2011) at the same time, university life may become even more complicated for students.

Research on university students emphasizes that a number of undesired outcomes, such as homesickness, anxiety, depression, over emotionality, failure, and dropout, may occur as a result of the stress felt by university students (Banyard & Cantor, 2004; Bülbül, 2012; Dyson & Renk, 2006; Simsek, 2013; Thurber & Walton, 2012). Therefore, students experiencing personal, emotional, social, and academic problems during the university adjustment process is mentioned (Aladag, Kagnici, Tuna, & Tezer, 2003).

Since it requires one to transition from a familiar environment to another one that is not only physically, but also socially new, university life includes many stress causing agents (Lazarus & Cohen, 1977). Recent research indicates that at-risk students, such as freshmen, those with low SES, and students with disabilities, have higher stress and anxiety levels than their peers (Allison, 2015). In this regard, many researchers have stated that coping styles play a significant role in students' ability to manage stress (Aldwin, 2004; Cross, 1995). Studies on freshmen in particular (Dyson & Renk, 2006; Gardner, Krägeloh, & Henning, 2014; Herman & Tetrick, 2009; Yalim, 2007; Yiqun, Yueqin, & Yiwen, 2010) have indicated that while some coping styles positively contributed to university adjustment, others just rendered the process more difficult. For instance, Brissette, Scheier, and Carver (2002) found that students' ability to adjust to their university increased as positive reinterpretation, a coping style, increased. In an experimental study (Baqutayan & Mai, 2012) conducted with freshmen in Malaysia, students in the experimental group were only taught how to cope with academic stress. Results showed that students in the experimental group better coped with academic stress than did those in the control group.

University students need a wider variety of social support sources to cope with the stress causing agents that they face during their first year of university. Relevant research emphasizes that social support is among the important factors contributing to university students exhibiting positive behaviors toward university adjustment (Anschuetz, 2005; Chao, 2012; Crockett et al., 2007; Salami, 2011). In the literature, sources of social support fall mostly into three categories: family, friends, and significant other (Zimet, Dahlem, Zimet, & Farley, 1988). It is stated that these people (mother, father, spouse, lover, friends, family, teachers, relatives, neighbors, and experts) are the sources that an individual turns to when s/he experiences problems or stress (Zimet et al., 1988). Again, it is stated in the literature that the social support provided in these sources are classified as emotional, instrumental, informational, and overall support (S. …

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