Adjustment to college: The role of optimism, coping strategies, and parental attachment

Lauren Herrmann, Pace University


Past research has identified a number of factors that show a significant correlation with successful adjustment to starting college. The major transition from high school to college can be a difficult adjustment for many students, similar to the transition from middle school to high school. The present study aims to expand on the existing literature by examining college freshman's overall adjustment to college as a function of optimism, choice of coping strategies, and parental attachment. A sample of 150 college freshman completed a self-report questionnaire packet including the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R), The Brief COPE, the Parental Attachment Questionnaire (PAQ), and the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ). ^ Results indicate that persons identified as optimistic, with secure parental attachment, also were identified as having successful adjustment to college. The use of active coping methods also were found to be related to a successful adjustment to college, while avoidant coping methods were related to less successful college adjustment. Past research indicates that the coping strategies employed by optimists are more favorable than pessimists, accounting for some of their successful adjustment during stressful times. Therefore, it was hypothesized that active coping methods would mediate the relationship between optimism and adjustment to college; this hypothesis was supported. The results suggest that active coping mediates the relationship between optimism and adjustment to college. However, the hypothesis suggesting active coping mediates the relationship between a secure parental attachment and adjustment to college was not supported in this study. A multiple regression analysis revealed that optimism, in contrast to coping strategies and parental attachment, is the most predictive factor contributing to successful college adjustment. However, secure parental attachment was also identified as supporting successful college adjustment. The findings of this study have important implications in support of school based programs teaching students optimistic thinking skills and promoting parental involvement/education in these programs. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Herrmann, Lauren, "Adjustment to college: The role of optimism, coping strategies, and parental attachment" (2007). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3287857.



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