Adjustment Issues

A series of questions on students' adjustment to problems commonly faced in college were asked only at UC Santa Cruz. Table 6 displays the average importance and progress ratings overall and the average progress ratings for each of the four UCSC student groups. There were few differences in the average importance of adjustment issues.

Groups Differences in the Importance of Adjustment Issues

Academic Level Freshmen rated the ability to manage finances, the ability to handle relationships, comfort with diverse people, balancing academic and personal life, and finding a social niche as more important than upperclassmen. Not surprisingly, deciding on a major and deciding on courses to take were the least important issues for seniors.

Sex Females reported all areas to be more important than males except ability to handle relationships and finding a social niche (where there were no differences).

Ethnicity As a group, students of color (especially Chicano, Latino, and Asian students) found selecting courses and managing finances as somewhat more important than white students.

Major Arts majors rated deciding on a major, time management, handling stress, managing finances, and handling personal relationships as more important than students in other majors. Humanities majors rated handling stress and managing finances as more important than other majors and deciding on a major as less important. Individual and interdisciplinary majors rated managing stress, comfort with differences, and personal relationships as more important than other students. Finding a social niche was important for students who were undeclared.

Transfer After accounting for student level, academic performance was more important for transfer students than "native" students.

College Differences were examined only for freshmen and sophomores. Students in Cowell College rated the importance of the comfort of their living situation, managing finances, and comfort with people from different backgrounds lower than students in most other colleges. Stevenson students rated time management and managing finances as less important. Crown College students rated comfort with people from different backgrounds and comfort of their living situation as less important than students in most other colleges. Students in Porter College rated balancing their academic and personal life, finding a social niche, comfort with people from different backgrounds, and deciding upon a major as having lower importance. Kresge College students rated selecting courses and academic performance as having less importance than other students.

Time management was the most difficult problem students faced. Although half report being satisfied with their ability to find a social niche, relatively few said they were doing 'very well.' Figure 2 displays UCSC students ratings of their adjustment to college.

Figure 2

Progress on Adjustment Issues for UCSC Students

Groups Differences in Progress on Adjustment Issues

Academic Level Freshmen rated their progress lower than seniors in academic competence, academic management skills, social competence, and acquisition of technical skills. Specifically, they were lower in deciding which courses to take, deciding on a major, time management, comfort with their living situation, academic performance, and finding a social niche. Satisfaction with the variety of courses in the major, computer services, and library facilities declined as students advanced.

Sex Females reported more progress than males for deciding on a major, time management, managing finances, social competence.

Ethnicity White students were slightly more satisfied than students of color with their ability to choose courses, their ability to decide on a major, and with their academic performance.

Major Arts, humanities, and undeclared majors rated their progress in developing technical skills lower than social and natural science majors. Undeclared students rated their progress in developing academic competence, social competence, and academic management skills lower than other students.

Transfer Although transfer students reported greater difficulty in finding a social niche or having a feeling of belonging to college than did "native" students, they were more satisfied with their overall academic experience including the quality of instruction, the content and variety of courses in their major, the rigor of their courses, their involvement with the faculty, and all sources of advising. Transfer students found their progress in comfort with people from different backgrounds to be greater than did "native" students.

College Students at Stevenson and College Eight rated their progress in developing effective interpersonal skills higher than students in Porter, Cowell, Merrill, and Crown Colleges.

Differences in Adjustment by the Importance of Academic and Social Competence

Adjustment issues cover a variety of academic and personal concerns. Students in Group A (medium academic, high social) reported greater progress on every adjustment item than students in any other group. The least progress was reported by Group C (low academic, medium social) on the academic topics (i.e., deciding on a major, deciding on courses to take, academic performance, time management) while Group D reported the least progress on all of the personal adjustment issues (e.g., ability to handle relationships, comfort with living situation, ability to find a social niche).

Improvement Indices for Adjustment Issues

Compared to other areas of the survey, students identified relatively few areas that had high importance and low satisfaction. Table 7 shows that about a fifth of UCSC students wanted to improve their ability to manage their finances and to manage their time.

Table 7

Improvement Indices for Student Challenges

Ability to manage finances 20%
Time management 19%

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