Undergraduate Students' Adaptation to College: Does Being Married Make a Difference?

Increasing numbers of married people matriculate as undergraduate students across the United States; yet few studies have investigated how they fare in their academics and personal relationships as students. In this study, married undergraduate students (n = 79) were compared with single undergraduate students (n = 192) on the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (Baker and Siryk, 1989). The results indicated that married students have moderate difficulties adjusting to the demands of higher education relative to unmarried students. Although social support from families and friends correlated with improved adjustment to college, support from the students' spouses was not associated with improved college adjustment even when the spouse was also a student. Married students reported significantly high levels of marital distress on multiple relationship dimensions. These findings underscore the importance of university counselors being prepared to help couples adapt to these new roles and find constructive ways to manage and decrease stress related to college attendance. Recommendations on how institutions can respond to the unique needs of married undergraduate students are provided.