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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Judith Van Hoorn

First Committee Member

David P. Baral

Second Committee Member

Rachelle K. Hackett

Third Committee Member

Mari G. Irvin

Fourth Committee Member

LaVon Rupel


International students from East Asian countries often experience difficulties adjusting to life on American college campuses. It is hypothesized that the difference between the individualistic orientation of American culture and the collectivistic orientation of the students' home cultures is partly responsible for these adjustment difficulties. In order to understand how individualism-collectivism orientations affect college adjustment, this study addressed the following questions: (1) Is there a relationship between the individualism-collectivism orientation of East Asian international students and the level of their college adjustment? (2) Are there differences among East Asian international students in individualism-collectivism orientation based on various demographic characteristics? (3) Are there differences between the international students from East Asian countries and the international students from Western European countries in terms of individualism-collectivism orientation? A survey of 259 East Asian students and 54 Western European students was conducted. Survey instruments included the Individualism-Collectivism (INDCOL) Scale, the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ), and the Questionnaire for Demographic Data. Survey questionnaires were sent to East Asian and Western European international students at California State University, Sacramento; University of California, Davis; California State University, Stanislaus; and University of the Pacific. In order to gain a more complete understanding of students' responses, interviews were conducted with eleven Japanese students in their native language. The results showed that Western European students were actually more collectivistic than East Asian students. Among East Asian students, there were significant differences in the level of collectivism of students from different countries. East Asian international students from Japan and Hong Kong were the least collectivistic, and international students from People's Republic of China were the most collectivistic. Surprisingly, both East Asian and Western European students who were more collectivistic tended to show better college adjustment. A possible explanation may be that East Asian students who were more individualistic on the INDCOL Scale were "overshooting," i.e., trying to act like their American peers. This adaptation style seemed to create psychological problems for these international students. Recommendations for counselors and international student advisors who have contacted with East Asian students are suggested.



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