Peer support as a predictor of college adjustment in students of Mexican-origin
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Previous research has examined the influence of social support and family support on Latino college adjustment; however, few studies have examined the role of peer support on Latino college adjustment, and even fewer studies have focused exclusively on Mexican-origin students. The purpose of this study was to explore the importance of perceived peer support to Mexican-origin college students adjusting to a predominantly White university, with special attention given to the role of perceived peer support in the context of minority status stress and traditional college stress. Specifically, this study aimed to find whether perceived peer support contributed to Mexican-origin students' college adjustment. Given that many minority students attending a predominantly White university experience minority status stress and traditional college stress, this study also assessed the extent to which perceived peer support buffered Mexican-origin students from these stressors. A second goal of this study was to examine the heterogeneity of the Mexican-origin college student population to determine whether acculturation status influenced the relation between perceived peer support and several variables including minority status stress, traditional college stress, and college adjustment. Mexican-origin (N = 136 ) students were recruited from the Center of Mexican American Studies, the Latino Leadership Council, and the Educational Psychology subject pool at The University of Texas at Austin. Participants completed an online survey that included a demographic form and five questionnaires that assessed traditional college stress, minority status stress, acculturation, perceived peer support, and college adjustment. Several important findings were identified. Perceived peer support was associated with increased levels of traditional college stress, social adjustment, and attachment to the university. Traditional college stress, specifically the academic stress and social stress subscales, negatively predicted overall college adjustment. Of the five minority status stress subscales, achievement stress and interracial stress negatively predicted college adjustment while social climate stress positively predicted college adjustment. Finally, acculturation status negatively predicted all five types of minority status stress. Contrary to what was predicted, none of the interaction terms were significant, indicating that neither perceived peer support nor acculturation status moderated the effects of stress on adjustment. Theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.