First-Year College Students’ Adjustment During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Protective Roles of Hope and Gratitude

Jen Ying Zhen Ang, Victoria Monte, William Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Worsened by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, first-year college students face unique academic and social stressors during the transitional period from high school to college. The present study examined the role of psychological resources (i.e., hope, gratitude, and COVID-19 protective self-efficacy) in mitigating the negative psychological impact of the pandemic. Four hundred seventy-six first-year college students (Mage = 17.97, SD =.59; 70.8% female) from a large private university in New York completed two online surveys during the first and seventh week of the Fall 2020 academic semester, respectively. We found that gratitude, hope, and COVID-19 protective selfefficacy were associated with improved psychological well-being over time. Our findings suggest that hope mitigated the detrimental consequences of those with low levels of COVID-19 protective self-efficacy. Specifically, first-year college students with low levels of COVID-19 protective self-efficacy and low levels of hope experienced greater loneliness over time. In contrast, we found that gratitude enhanced the benefits of having high levels of COVID-19 protective self-efficacy. Among those with high levels of gratitude, COVID-19 protective self-efficacy was associated with lower depressive symptoms over time, but this relationship was not significant among those with low levels of gratitude. Hope mitigated the detrimental consequences of those with low levels of COVID-19 protective self-efficacy, while gratitude enhanced the ameliorative effects of those with high levels of COVID-19 protective self-efficacy. One limitation of the present study is the generalizability of the sample to first-year college students from other educational settings and geographic regions. Implications for college students and university administrators are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTranslational Issues in Psychological Science
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • First-year college students
  • Gratitude
  • Hope
  • Self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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