Date of Award

Winter 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services



Committee Director

Alan Schwitzer

Committee Member

Tim Grothaus

Committee Member

Tisha Paredes


The transition to an institution of higher education can present challenges and difficulties, but it is a student's expectations that can ultimately predict adjustment (Jackson, Pancer, Pratt, & Hunsberger, 2000). A larger number of students who experience difficulties in their adjustment end up withdrawing from the institution (Baker & Siryk, 1986). There is evidence that for some students there is a vast disconnect between their expectations regarding the institution of higher education, and the reality of their experiences. Students may not realize that what was expected of them in high school will differ greatly in college. It is this lack of understanding of the different expectations that can lead students to struggle academically, and can affect adjustment (Kern, Fagley, & Miller, 1998). Studies indicate that students who entered college with unrealistically high expectations were less successful academically than students with lower, but more accurate grade expectations (Smith & Wertlieb, 2005). High achieving college students may face unique challenges related to their overall adjustment (Rice, Leever, Christopher, & Porter, 2006). These challenges may also affect students' expectations regarding adjustment. The current study followed a non-experimental ex post facto design. Data collected from the Transition to College Inventory was analyzed to assess expected academic, social, personal-emotional, and institutional adjustment of honors students and non-honors students. Additionally, the study examined expected adjustment and participation in honors programming as predictors of academic success and retention status. A random sample of Honors College students and non-honors students (N = 393) was utilized for the current study. Results indicate that there was a significant difference between honors students and non-honors student reports' on expected adjustment. Additionally, factor 2 (Influences in college choice), and the group the student belonged to (honors vs. non-honors) were most influential in predicating first semester academic success.


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