Navigating College Life: The Role of Peer Networks in First-Year College Adaptation Experience of Minority Immigrant Students
Author(s): Kim, E.
Citation: Kim, E. (2009). Navigating College Life: The Role of Peer Networks in First-Year College Adaptation Experience of Minority Immigrant Students. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 21(2), 9-34.
Many immigrants regard college education as a primary means for socioeconomic advancement and assimilation into U.S. society. However, despite their growing numbers in American higher education, little consideration has been given to how immigrant students negotiate acculturative stress, social integration, cultural values, and academic engagement to navigate toward success in college. Given that the transition to college is a critical period marked by a host of complex challenges in psychological, academic, social, and cultural adjustment, the present study examines minority immigrant students' college adaptation experiences, with particular attention to the academic domain, and explores the role of campus peer networks during the first-year college transition process. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with 49 ethnic minority immigrant students from a large public midwestern university. The study participants tended to rely on peer networks of the same ethnicity rather than institutional agents when seeking assistance in adapting to the college environment. Ethnic peer network membership on campus played a positive role in helping minority immigrant students adjust academically to college and persist through the first to second year.