This study examined whether first-generation South Asian American college students are different from continuing-generation South Asian American college students in their college adjustment, as measured by the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire and their psychological well-being (PWB), as measured by the Scales of Psychological Well-Being (SPWB). The Asian population is one of the fastest growing minority groups in the United States. Despite being the third largest Asian subgroup, South Asians continue to be underrepresented within the educational and psychological literature. A review of studies shows that compared to continuing-generation college students (CGCS), first-generation college students (FGCS) are disadvantaged in terms of their demographic characteristics, pre-college preparation, knowledge about higher education, non-cognitive variables (e.g., self-esteem), and adjustment to college. Additionally, existing research shows that FGCS experience higher levels of psychological distress and lower levels of PWB. This study found that FGCS were significantly more likely to live and work off campus, have lower household incomes, and spend fewer hours per week participating in co-curricular activities than their CGCS peers. Furthermore, FGCS had lower levels of social and academic adjustment compared to their counterparts. Finally, while FGCS had lower mean scores on the SPWB than their peers, only the scores on the Personal Growth subscale were significantly different. Understanding and contextualizing the experiences of racial/ethnic minority students who are first in their family to pursue higher education will help educators and psychologists to identify, develop, and implement culturally appropriate instructional strategies, programs, services, and treatments. Consequently, this would help nontraditional youth transition successfully into college and thrive psychologically.
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The effects of generational status on college adjustment and psychological well-being among South Asian American college students