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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

Publication Details

Adjustment to College Before and After September 11, 2001

Author(s): Johnson, V. K., Kerr, S., Gans, S. E., & Bierschwale

Citation: Johnson, V. K., Kerr, S., Gans, S. E., & Bierschwale. (2009). Adjustment to College Before and After September 11, 2001. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 21(1), 91-112.



The present study compares college adjustment among emerging adults beginning college in 2000 (before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks) and in 2001 (three weeks before 9/11). A prospective longitudinal design was used to follow 41 students throughout their first college year. Participants completed questionnaires about symptoms of anxiety and depression before starting college and questionnaires about their adjustment to college in the first two semesters of college. Students starting college weeks before 9/11 reported more difficulty with their social adjustment than the comparison sample. Furthermore, precollege depression and anxiety explain a significant portion of variance in spring semester social adjustment. These findings may have implications for other crises, such as natural disasters and random acts of violence.


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