Asian-American students' use of a university student-affairs office.
Asian American students (Surveys)
Asian American students (Services)
Yang, Raymond K.
Byers, Steven R.
Ahuna, Linda M.
Castro, Kimberly S.
Pub Date:
Name: College Student Journal Publisher: Project Innovation (Alabama) Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2002 Project Innovation (Alabama) ISSN: 0146-3934
Date: Sept, 2002 Source Volume: 36 Source Issue: 3
Event Code: 360 Services information; 290 Public affairs Computer Subject: Company services
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States

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Asian-American students could benefit from the support provided by student affairs offices that serve ethnic minorities, but they might eschew the help if they accept the stereotype of the "model student". We surveyed Asian-American students on a university campus to assess the extent to which they used this type of office. Two scales, one measuring Basic Human Needs, the other, an original scale asking students to compare their lives now to their lives in their families-of-origin were used to assess student characteristics. Office use was positively correlated with students' valuation of their families-of-origin. Older and more advanced students used the office less.


The influx of Asian-American students onto university campuses has steadily increased over the years, more so than for any other ethnic minority (Takagi, 1992). The increase is reflective of demographic changes in the general population (Hsia, 1988; Kuo & Roysircar-Sodowsky, 1999; L.C. Lee, 1998), cultural and familial values related to the high valuation of formal education (e.g., Steinberg, Dornbusch, & Brown, 1992), and increased efforts to recruit and support minority students (Cuyjet & Liu, 1999). On-campus political machinations attempting to control this. influx (e.g., Sun, 1997, Takagi, 1992) and broad community sentiment opposing policy-level support for minority admissions (e.g., California Proposition 209, "Prohibition Against Discrimination or Preferential Treatment ..." in 1996) have affected this trend, but not substantially. Thus, the upward trend in enrollments for most ethnic minority groups will probably continue (Cf. Haynes, 2001).

As with other ethnic classifications, there are many cultural groups colligated under the rubric "Asian-American" (Yoshioka, Tashima, Chew, & Maruse, 1981; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1992). In some cases, these cultural groups (e.g., Chinese, Filipino, Pakistani, Vietnamese) hold different views on social issues as well as share common perceptions. They identify themselves both as culturally distinctive groups and as panethnic Asian-Americans (Lien, 2001). In the context of college campuses, these groups are typically melded and proffered services as a group. This is true for other ethnic minority students.

Cultural Adaptation

On the university campus, Asian-Americans, among ethnic minorities, must often cope with the stereotype of the proverbial "model minority"--they are high achieving, studious, and demure (Sue, 1999)--and therefore, unlikely to be victimized by prejudice. Like all stereotypes, there is some data to support this, especially in mathematics performance (Hsia & Peng, 1998). Nonetheless, the overarching stereotype has been substantially deconstructed: As with all groups, there is a range of abilities and interests among Asian-Americans (e.g., S.J. Lee, 1996; Takaki, 1996). And like other minorities in the larger community and on the university campus, Asian-Americans are subject to and report acts of discriminatory treatment ranging from discourtesies by strangers, to workplace mistreatment and nonpromotion, to lethal violence (Alvarez & Yeh, 1999; Kuo & Roysircar-Sadowsky, 1999; L.C. Lee, 1998; Okamura & Tsutsumoto, 1998; Sandhu, Kaur, & Tewari, 1999).

The concept of "acculturation" has a deconstructed past. The traditional and most common-sense notion of the term is applied to individuals and groups who emigrate to a host culture. Immigrant minorities adapt the practices of the host culture and in doing so, slowly lose the customs of their original culture (Sue, Mak, & Sue, 1998). More recent and theoretically oriented models posit a stage process in which an individual egocentrically accepts a majority posture, then, is rejected by and rejects that posture, and finally discovers a true self-identity (see Kurasaki (1999), Kuo & Roysircar-Sodowsky (1999), and Sue, Mak, & Sue (1998) for reviews of these models). These developmental processes ultimately move an individual to an identity associated with specific cultural practices. These practices can reflect more than a single cultural identity (Sodowsky & Lai, 1998; Roysircar-Sodowsky & Maestas, 2000): It is possible to maintain (1) a bicultural identity; (2) to identify primarily with one culture and secondarily with another; and, (3) it is possible to be marginalized from both cultures. These newer models of cultural adaptation have more breadth than the common-sense model. The new models can appraise an individual's retention of original cultural practices in the context of a host culture (Hong, Morris, Chiu, & Benet-Martinez, 2000); the older models cannot do this (Rogler, 1999; Sue, 1999).

Oetting and Beauvais' (1990) two-dimensional model of cultural identity is an example of a newer model: They define ethnic identity as orthogonal to majority identity. This allows for a person to be highly identified both with a minority group and the majority group. Or, a person can be weakly identified with both groups (i.e., anomic, and similar to being marginalized). The advantage of these models are their versatility: Persons can be classified in terms that are not mutually exclusive; they preclude the negative correlation between minority and majority identity that is inherent in most assessments. The advantage to Oetting and Beauvais' model is its orthogonality--a correlation of zero between identification with one culture versus another.

Beyond the university campus, Asian-Americans occupy a unique place among ethnic minorities. Years ago, Blalock (1967) described them (then, Chinese and Japanese; perhaps now, Koreans and Vietnamese) as one of several "middleman" minorities (along with Greeks and Armenians). These middlemen perform well in small-market economies and serve as a buffer between the elite majority and other minority groups. As a result, middlemen minorities are allowed status above other minorities. In stable communities, these middlemen might be eventually allowed to amalgamate with more elite groups. But, when communities become unstable, these middleman minorities become scapegoats and the unprotected flashpoint between the lower and upper strata of the community; the destruction of Korean shops during riots in Los Angeles in 1992, and their boycott in New York in 1990, are examples of this (Min, 1996). Blalock suggested that during these attacks, these groups become ethnocentric as a form of self-protection.

From a perspective of effective coping or acculturation, Asian-Americans face a unique challenge. They suffer much of the same stress as other minority groups, but because of their stereotype, may be viewed as not as needful. Indeed, many Asian-Americans may themselves hold this opinion and may not be as help-seeking as others, especially if the assistance offered is perceived as insensitive (Atkinson, Lowe, & Matthews, 1995; Leong, 1986). Nonetheless, Sandhu, Kaur, and Tewari (1999) review evidence indicating that more "acculturated" Asian-Americans are more willing to seek professional help for their stress, although Atkinson, Whiteley, and Gim (1990) found the opposite. Thus is it unclear whether stress-related needs encourage Asian-American to seek help or their acculturated stereotype predisposes them against it.

The university is a context receptive to the idealized stereotype of the Asian-American. On campus, a studious, quiet, and respectful disposition could be viewed as optimal for performance. Our interest was in assessing the use of a student support office by Asian-American students and whether that use was associated with stress-related needs. We based our assessment of Asian-American college students' adjustment to campus on Oetting and Beauvais' (1990) and Roysircar-Sodowsky's models (Sodowsky & Lai, 1998; Roysircar-Sodowsky & Maestas, 2000) of cultural adaptation. This approach allows for minority students to exhibit their acculturation and/or their bicultural identification. We added to it an appreciation of the age-inevitable aspect of emigration--that an individual is younger in his/her place of origin and older in the new community: In our assessment, we asked students to contrast what they were experiencing now with what they grew up with as a child.

Basic Human Needs

Cultural adaptation occurs when an individual emigrates to a new community. Immigrants can include not only those leaving one country for another, but also those moving from rural to urban areas, and even students leaving home to go to a distant college. The challenges associated with these adaptations, whether they are international or regional, are omnibus and not constrained to employment or a specific activity. This experience has been variously described as accommodating without assimilating (Gibson, 1993), displacing (Ossorio, 1979), inverting (Ogbu, 1993), discontinuous (St. Germaine, 1995), or syncretic (Stewart & Shaw, 1994). The breadth of the descriptions all index the holistic and sometimes disruptive adjustments that accompany these changes.

Drawing on long standing descriptions of human developmental needs (e.g., Maslow, 1968; Murray, 1938; Shneidman, 2001), Ossorio (1979) proposed that basic human needs in many areas become important in moving to a new community. These areas include: Physical health; safety and security; self-esteem and worth; love and affection; agency and autonomy; adequacy and competence; identity; belonging and acceptance; disengagement; order and understanding; personal and social legitimacy; meaning hope and significance; and, extension of self. Aylesworth and Ossorio (1983) assessed this model of needs in Indochinese refugees (Cambodian, Hmong, Vietnamese) in the Denver metropolitan area. Aylesworth and Ossorio found that refugees had "frustrations" in meeting their needs in safety and security, order and understanding, and adequacy and competence. Refugees were also characterized by high cynicism, compulsive activity, and guilt; many were in a trajectory that ultimately ended in depression, anger, and physical symptomatology. We used a modification of Ossorio's Basic Human Needs Scale to measure the adjustment of college students in this study.

Hypotheses about Help-Seeking

Asian-Americans are uniquely stereotyped. They are viewed and may view themselves as high-achieving, and therefore, as not needful of special support. Yet, they are victimized by discriminatory and prejudicial treatment. The cumulative stress they experience could be substantial, at least to the extent that they avail themselves of little to dampen it (Cheng, Leong, & Geist, 1993). Our questions are, do they avail themselves of support? Does a measure of their cultural affiliations (i.e., allowing for a bicultural choice) relate to their use of support services? Sandhu, Kaur, and Tewari (1999) review evidence suggesting that acculturated Asian-Americans are more willing to seek help; thus, Akutsu, Lin, and Zane (1990) found that credibility and empathy were important aspects of Chinese students continued contact with counselors. But, if acculturation implies acceptance of the "model minority" stereotype, this seems counterintuitive (cf. Leong, 1986). And, Atkinson, Whiteley, and Gim (1990) found that more acculturated Asian-Americans preferred their friends (rather than counselors) as sources of help for personal problems. Thus, it is unclear whether acculturation, how ever assessed, predisposes Asian-Americans toward help-seeking from friends or counselors. This is an important question because it could extend Atkinson et al's. assertion that these students need to be made more aware of the professional counselors available to them on campus. It seems equally reasonable to organize programs that support social interaction among those suffering comparable forms of discrimination and prejudicial treatment. Student Support Offices are typically organized on just such a basis: They provide non-counseling support and activities for students with common ethnic backgrounds. The ethnic homogeneity provides the opportunity for students to presumptuously identify with each other and shed the watchful posture that otherwise inhabits their presence in majority settings (Festinger, 1954, Feagin & Sikes, 1995).

The use of an orthogonal model of cultural identity permits the assessment of bicultural affiliations. With this model, a person can identify with more than one culture. C. Ahuna (1993) demonstrated that cultural identity varies as a function of context. Using the Suinn-Lew Asian Self-Identity Acculturation Scale (Suinn, Rickard-Figueroa, Lew, & Vigil, 1987), she showed that acculturation scores differed when students were asked to respond as college students or as family members. We developed a set of questions that asks students to compare their lives when they were children (in their old neighborhoods with their families) to their current lives (as students on campus). The "My Life Then and Now" scale asks respondents about their culture-of-origin, their current context, and then to compare the two with special consideration for the current value of what they learned in their culture-of-origin.



Respondents were 195 self-identified Asian or Pacific Islander students at a large western university. The respondents were those who returned surveys that had been mailed to 650 students on a mailing list maintained by an office designated to support Asian and Pacific Islander students. The mailing list was comprised of students who attend the university and who have self-identified themselves on their university application forms as Asians or Pacific Islanders. All students whose addresses were within commuting distance of campus (including on-campus dormitories) were mailed surveys with a cover letter and pre-addressed, pre-stamped return envelope.

All students attended a large public Land-Grant research-oriented university in the West. The university enrolls 23,000 students and has a total budget of about $500M. Twelve percent of the students are ethnic minorities. The university employs 7000, 1500 of whom are faculty. Ten percent of the faculty are ethnic minorities. Twenty-five percent of the faculty are women. The overall student/faculty ratio is 15:1.


Students responded to two surveys. The Basic Human Needs Scale (BHN) was modified from Ossorio (1979). The modified Scale is comprised of 39 items assessing 13 areas of basic human needs: physical health, safety and security, self-esteem and worth, love and affection, agency and autonomy, adequacy and competency, identity, belonging and acceptance, disengagement, order and understanding, personal and social legitimacy, meaning hope and significance, and extension of self. Each item is accompanied by a six-point Likert response ranging from Very Untrue to Very True. We modified a few items to make them specifically applicable to university campus life. (See Appendix A for the items.)

"My Life Then and Now" (MLTaN) is an original scale designed to compare a person's current context to his or her culture of origin. Fifteen items compare recollections of life growing up as a child to life now (i.e., in college). Each item is a phrase (e.g., "My cultural heritage ...") followed by four Likert-like stem phrases from which respondents select the one that most accurately describes their feelings (e.g., "... is not very important to me [now]."). Five items focus on life in one's family-of-origin, five on the current context, and five on a comparison of the two. (See Appendix B for the items.)


Our objectives were to (1) reduce each scale to a set of coherent summary variables; then, to (2) assess the relation between both sets of variables, and then (3) examine how they were affected by use of the student affairs office for Asian-Americans. We anticipated that students would report varying levels of stress, but were not sure whether the use of the office would be associated with lower levels of stress.

Basic Human Needs Scale

To assess the structure of the Basic Human Needs Scale (BHN) and to reduce the total number of items to summarizing measures, we factored the 39 items. The factor analysis (varimax, orthogonal rotation) generated 11 factors with eigen values over one. The seventh through eleventh factors were comprised of only two items; we considered these insufficiently summarizing and of low conceptual usefulness; we did not consider them for further analyses. Table 1 presents the factor loadings for the first six factors.

Most items loaded on only one factor; few cross-loaded on more than one. The first factor contained 10 items with loadings greater than .40. High scores on this factor describe a student who feels out of place, without friends, and useless. This student feels different, misunderstood, and unappreciated; and is confused, frustrated, and unable to relax. We labeled this factor, Lonely/Frustrated. The reliability of this factor, excluding the negatively loaded item ("I have a good understanding of people"), was acceptable (Cronbach alpha = .85).

The second factor contained eight items with loadings greater than .40. High scores on this factor describe a student who is self-directed, feels capable and helpful to others, and is proud of personal accomplishments. We labeled this factor, Assertive/Self-Directed. The reliability of this factor, excluding the two negatively loaded items ("I wish I could just blend in with other students on this campus", "I have almost no hope that I can ever live the kind of life I want to live") was acceptable (Cronbach alpha = .76).

The third factor contained seven items with loadings greater than .40. A student scoring high on this factor values and feels secure in social and personal relationships, and is spiritually centered. We labeled this factor, Relational Commitment. The reliability of this factor was acceptable (Cronbach alpha = .71).

The fourth factor contained five items with loadings greater than .40. Like factor three, this factor also describes a student who feels self-knowledgeable and comfortable with others. But, by eliminating negative loading items, the factor only retained three items. The reliability of the three was unacceptable (Cronbach alpha = .50), and we decided not to use this factor in further analyses.

We decided to use the fifth factor even though it was comprised of only two measures. Both items were highly correlated (r (n = 195) = -.66, p. <.000) and made sense. We recoded the item on poor health so that high scores on this composite measure would indicate good physical health, and called this composite, Physical Health. The reliability of these two items was high (Cronbach alpha = .79).

The sixth factor contained three items with loadings greater than .40. The factor describes a student who is distrustful, guarded, and pessimistic: One must look out for oneself, because others cannot be depended on; yet, this student does not see a positive future, and, this student catches a lot of colds. The reliability of the three items was unacceptable (Cronbach alpha .43), and we decided not to use this factor in further analyses.

"My Life Then and Now" Scale

To assess the structure of this scale and to reduce the items to summarizing variables, we factor analyzed (varimax, orthogonal rotation) the 15 items. Four factors with eigen values greater than one were generated. The factors and their loadings are presented in Table 2.

The first factor contained five items with loadings greater than #39. A score on this factor indicates students' retrospective valuation of their families-of-origin and the communities where they grew up. We labeled this factor, Value Family Origins. Combined, the five items had minimally acceptable reliability (Cronbach alpha = .64).

The second factor contained three items with loadings greater than .40. The factor represents a student's assessment of current friends, the extent to which they are similar to childhood friends, and the extent to which the student feels they would be comparable to future friends. We called this factor, Friendship Continuity. Combined, the three items had acceptable reliability (Cronbach alpha = .64).

The third factor contained four items with loadings greater than .40. The factor describes students' assessment of their current activities, and reflects the extent to which students feel productive and future-oriented in their major activities. We labeled this factor, Productive Activity. The reliability for these items was low (Cronbach alpha =.55). The average inter-correlation among these items was moderate (r(n = 191) = .28, p <.000).

The fourth factor contained three items with loadings greater than .40. The items compare childhood experiences (things learned, friends, customs) with the current situation. Students with high scores on this factor consider their current situation to be generally comparable to their childhood contexts. We labeled this factor, Old/New Comparability. The average inter-correlation among these items was moderate (r(n = 191) = .31, p<.000). The reliability for these items was low (Cronbach alpha = .58).

The Cronbach alphas for the factor-generated composite measures were low, but we elected to use them as measures, nonetheless. This was an initial assessment of an original scale with a total of only 15 items. By increasing the number of items contributing to each composite measure, the reliabilities can be increased. We intend to do this in ensuing iterations of the scale. The reliability for the entire scale (15 items) was acceptable (Cronbach alpha = .72).

Correlations between the Basic Human Needs and the "My Life Then and Now" Scales

Factor scores for the four BHN Lonely/Frustrated, Assertive/Self-Directed, Relational Commitment, Physical Health) were correlated with factor scores for the four MLTaN variables (Value Family Origins, Friendship Continuity, Productive Activity, Old/New Comparability). The correlations among these two sets of variables are presented in Table 3.

[Insert Table 3 about here.]

Nine of the 16 correlations were statistically significant. Three of the significant correlations were more substantial than the others: An inverse relation between Lonely/Frustrated and Friendship Continuity; a positive relation between Friendship Continuity and Relational Commitment, and a positive relation between Relational Commitment and Productive Activity. These correlations suggest that productive activity is embedded in a context of social relationships.

The less substantial correlations related Lonely/Frustrated to low Productive Activity; Productive Activity to Relational Commitment; Relational Commitment to Value Family Origins and a sense that the current situation (i.e., university life) was continuous with earlier times (i.e., Old/New Comparability); and a sense of that continuity being connected to good Physical Health. Here again, the correlations reflect the importance of social relationships, and note, at lesser magnitudes, the contributions of family values and physical health.

Relations with demographic measures emerged that appeared interpretable: Age (and class-standing) was correlated with Assertive/Self-Directedness (r(n = 180) = .23, p. = .002) and Productive Activity (r (n = 187) = .30, p. < .000); self-reported grade-point average was negatively correlated with Lonely/Frustrated (r(n = 172) = -.16, p. = .03), and positively correlated with Assertive/Self-Directed (r (n = 174) = .16, p. = .03), Productive Activity (r (n = 181) = .22, p. = .002), Old/New Comparability (r(n = 182) =17, p. = .03), and age (r(n = 189) =.25, p. = .001).

Use of the support-services office

A single question assessed students' use of the office designated to assist Asian and Pacific Islander students. Students were asked whether they visited or used the office "daily; once or twice a week; once or twice a month; once or twice a semester; [or] haven't visited or used the Office." The eight variables from the BHN and MLTaN scales were correlated with the office use measure. Of the eight, only Value Family Origins was correlated with use of the office (r(n = 182) =. 19, p. = .01). This indicated that there is a slight tendency for students who value their family background to use the office more often than students who value their family background less. Because this was the only statistically significant correlation and because of its magnitude, a regression analysis would not have added to our understanding of which factors were related to office use, and we did not conduct one. Two other related measures were correlated with office use: Older and more advanced students (i.e., juniors, seniors) were less likely to use the office (rage (n = 187) = -.26, p. < .000; r, (n = 187) = - .25, p. < .000).


Although our findings are correlational, and the "My Life Then and Now" scale is new, we feel that our results point to several interesting aspects of how Asian-American students use support services on a college campus.

The role of the student affairs office

Asian-American students who value their family heritage were more active with the student affairs office (designated to serve their ethnic group) than students who do not value their family heritage. Perhaps students use the office as a "home away from home" if they are attracted to a campus setting that has characteristics that are reminiscent of their family of origin. These characteristics could include unique styles of interaction, shared appreciations (e.g., for particular foods, recreational activities), or simply being with others possessing similar physical features. These shared appreciations are associated with family activities for these students, thus they hold a common affinity for their families and the student affairs office.

Notably, students who scored low on this measure and who were not as active with the student affairs office are probably no less appreciative of being with others who share their interests. But these students probably do not group these appreciations under the rubric of a familial identity. For these students, common appreciations are probably colligated outside of the context of their families of origin and possibly beyond an ethnic category.

Use of the office was associated with other student characteristics. Older and more advanced Asian-American students use the office less than those who are younger and less advanced. Being an older and more advanced student is also associated with being more assertive, self-directed, and productive; all of these characteristics are associated with higher grades. Grades are not correlated with frequency of office use.

Thus, to a moderate extent, the office provides direct and indirect support to Asian-American students. Family support contributes to the performance of Asian-American students in a positive manner (L. Ahuna, 1993). Perhaps the office provides a familiar haven for students who value their family origins. Being away from home, they probably miss that ambiance, and the office provides it. The office also serves younger students who are less assertive, less self-directed, and less productive (than older students who use the office less). Nevertheless, use of the office for explicit academic purposes does not seem to occur, at least to the extent that it is not correlated with grades. The overall implication appears to be that the office serves the cultural needs of students directly and developmental needs indirectly. As students become more acclimatized to the campus environment, that is, as they become assertive, self-directed, and productive, their use of the office decreases. We hypothesize that the office, used initially as a familiar haven in a larger unfamiliar setting, becomes the place from which students launch themselves into the campus milieu.

To our surprise, none of the Basic Human Needs (BHN) factors related to use of the office. The first factor, Lonely/Frustrated, is clearly stress-related. The office serves as a ready and reliable source of friendly social contact, tutoring, counseling, and pragmatic assistance in navigating the bureaucracies on campus. Yet, these students do not avail themselves of any of its resources. The lack of empathy or insensitivity to cultural issues that Atkinson, Lowe, and Matthews (1995) and Leong (1986) found to be important should not be problematic here. Focusing on ethnic associations, the office is uniquely sensitive to these issues; and our finding that the use of the office by students who value their family origins is consistent with the office's posture.

So why do lonely and frustrated students not use the support services provided by the office? We think there are two possible reasons. First, the moderate negative correlation between Lonely/Frustrated (BHN, factor 1) and Old/New Comparability (MLTaN, factor 4) suggests that these students have elected to depart their family heritage. The departure is consistent with an assimilative model of acculturation in which a person abandons the culture of origin for the new, dominant host culture (Oetting & Beauvais, 1990). In many Asian families, a departure from a tradition in which filial piety is emphasized could be, in itself, especially stressful. Thus, for Asian-American students, this could be a major decision. These students would need to envision significant gains from making it, including expectations of the type of acceptance described by Blalock (1967): a comparative elevation above other minorities, and even a possible amalgamation with the White majority. But these students may eventually discover that they have overestimated their gains. For various reasons, they may discover that what they anticipated would occur, does not. And, they may be left suspended, by their own actions, between their heritage and their unfulfilled need for acceptance by the majority.

The second reason could be that these students have accepted their stereotype as the "model minority" (Sue, 1999). Studious, hard-working, and demure, they cannot need help; or, if they do, they cannot show it. It is not stoicism because frustration is a part of the phenomenon. The frustration is associated with not being able to alleviate the loneliness. Having accepted the stereotype, the student will not permit him- or herself to ask for help and suffers in silence.

Validity of the scales and their implications

The largest factor, representing loneliness and frustration, depicts an unhappy student who could readily be considered a drop-out risk. Yet, only a slight negative relation existed between this factor and grades; and, although this relation is reasonable, that no other relation emerged is puzzling. Other relations between the BHN factors and other measures provide construct validation for the factors. For example, the association between age (and class-standing) and assertiveness, self-directedness, and productivity indicates that experience on campus is beneficial to students and increases their confidence--a reasonable assumption. So we think that the scale and factors are valid.

More support for the construct validity of the BHN scale and factors emerges from their relation to the factors from "My Life Then and Now" scale (MLTaN); and, the interpretability of the correlations between these sets of factors also supports the validity of MLTaN. The substantial inter-scale correlations among Lonely/Frustrated (BHN) and Friendship Continuity (MLTaN), Friendship Continuity and Relational Commitment (BHN), and Relational Commitment and Productive Activity (MLTaN) depict a student who is productive when embedded in positive social relationships that are seen as continuous from the past to the future. In contrast, the student who feels lonely and frustrated (BHN, factor 1) also feels unproductive (MLTaN) and disconnected from his or her past (MLTaN, factor 4). For this student there appears to be an unsuccessful attempt to leave the past behind and acculturate to the new university community. But, rather than establish new relationships, this student does not feel welcomed on campus. Rather than making new friends, this student feels different, unappreciated, and misunderstood, and thus is lonely, confused, and frustrated.

For years, Tinto (1975, 1993) has emphasized the fundamental importance of social relationships for university students. He theorizes that students need to be integrated to the campus academically and socially; both equally influence students' performance. Academic integration is formal and inescapable via core curriculum requirements, majors, and the structure of courses. In contrast, social integration is voluntary and often informal. Peer associations and extra-curricular activities are the venues by which students achieve social integration. Thus, the extent to which students are socially integrated to campus varies, and successful integration can be serendipitous. Our data indicate that Asian-American students who are socially integrated on campus are clearer in their academic goals and perform slightly better than those who are lonely and frustrated. Our findings support Tinto's model.

Absenting opportunities for social integration could predispose students to discontinue their studies, regardless of their academic performance. According to Tinto's model (1993), academic and social integration are extended over time and both student and setting are active influences on persistence or departure. Our findings are consistent with his model and could describe the nascent psychosocial origins of these important processes: Students who feel lonely, frustrated, unproductive, and disconnected from their past, but whose grades are only slightly affected, could comprise the population from which attrition occurs. By not availing themselves of opportunities for social integration, these students could exacerbate their loneliness, further depress their grades, and eventually attrite.

Student-support offices can play a pivotal role in this process because they serve a dual purpose. First, these offices are often organized along lines that reflect students' familial (i.e., cultural) backgrounds. Thus, by serving as a collection point for students with similar backgrounds, the office can be the context in which students find others with similar weltanschauungen or familiarities and habits. Second, and as important, by being on-campus, these offices cannot help but convey the clear message that the relevant setting is the university. (Sometimes these offices are located in the student union, which is central to campus. This can symbolize the centrality of the challenge these students face.) Students using these offices can find peers who share common perspectives to the new challenges they are facing; and, they can attack them together. This is similar to Tinto's (2000) suggestion that peer learning communities could be helpful in the social integration and academic performance of students.

The conundrum faced by these offices is how to bring these students in. Lonely and unappreciative of their heritage, it seems unlikely that these students would initiate contact with these offices. After all, these offices display their cultural associations, and this is what attracts a number of students. The lonely students, now unappreciative of their family origins, might avoid the office for the same reason that others are attracted to it. Thus, whether they would respond positively to contact by office staff seems unpredictable, especially if the contact is by someone who reminds them of their past, from which they prefer to depart. Our speculation is that an appropriate contact by the office could emphasize the common challenges faced by these students and how groups can effectively confront these challenges, more so than individuals. No initial mention would be made of the cultural aspect of the office, but it could later be noted that the shared cultural background is a definitional aspect of minority status, which is, in turn, related to the challenges these students face.

Bi-Cultural adaptation

The MLTaN scale was based on Oetting and Beauvais' (1990) model of acculturation. Their model allows for immigrants to retain and value aspects of their original culture, as well as adapt their host culture. Their model also suggests that persons who do neither (i.e., they abandon their old culture and do not adapt the new one) face the prospect of alienation. This is what could be happening to the students that are lonely and frustrated (BHN, factor 1). They could be in the process of alienating themselves from university culture: They have left their old way of life behind (MLTaN, factor 4); yet, they feel unaccepted in their present setting.

These students with high scores in loneliness and frustration (BHN, factor 1) appear to hold that common-sense model of acculturation in which they, as "model" minorities, leave their old ways behind and adapt the new culture (Sue, 1999; Sue, Mak, & Sue, 1998). For whatever reason--lack of acceptance, reticence--they are unable to achieve that successful adaptation, and could find themselves with only one alternative: to leave the university and return to their familiar culture where they would be more welcomed.

The irony for these students exists at two levels. First, appropriate acculturation is conceptualized in singular fashion--one has a primary cultural identity (e.g., an American university student, and whatever that connotes to the individual). Thus, these students leave their home-town identities and habits behind and try to acquire the customs of their new campus culture. Yet, they feel unaccepted and frustrated. Second, for having left their home-town identities, they have departed the very source of familiarity, comfort, and perhaps, confidence that could sustain them in their new setting. Had these students a more dynamic model of acculturation--one in which they could maintain more than a single identity--their adaptation might be more facile. Our recommendation for these students is to somehow re-establish their connection to their familiar culture. The immediate challenge is to do so without directly offering it to them, since they have already made the decision to leave it behind. A direct offer could be rejected. The tandem challenge is to encourage these students to consider a broader model of acculturation--one like Oetting and Beauvais' (1990) that incorporates bi-cultural options.

On a final note, the finding that a sense of continuity from one's family of origin to the present situation (MLTaN, factor 4) is positively related to physical health (BHN, factor 4) and Relational Commitment (BHN, factor 3), and negatively related to being lonely and frustrated (BHN, factor 1) appears interpretable. The continuity could be a comfortable foundation from which these students move with confidence. This comfort and confidence precludes being lonely and frustrated, lowers anxiety, and predisposes a student to greater investment in relationships and better physical health.

Appendix A

Basic Human Needs Scale

Each items is accompanied by a six-point Likert response ranging from "Very True for Me" to "Very Untrue for Me". Students are asked to respond in terms of their life now, here on campus.

1. On the whole, my physical health is good at present.

2. I would feel safer if I could express my thoughts more clearly.

3. On this campus, I am of not much use to anyone.

4. There are people on this campus who really care for me.

5. I feel things are out of my control.

6. Although I am doing all that I can, it still isn't enough.

7. I know what is natural and right for me.

8. On this campus, there is no place where I really belong.

9. It is difficult for me to relax and forget about my problems.

10. Life on this campus is confusing.

11. I am respected by my family and friends.

12. I have almost no hope that I can ever live the kind of life I want to live.

13. A person has to look after him- or herself, because you cannot depend on other people.

14. Right now, my physical health is bad.

15. I believe that nothing very bad will happen to me.

16. I have truly helped some people.

17. I do not have enough good friends on this campus.

18. Nobody else decides for me what I should do.

19. I am confident of being able to make a living.

20. I wish I could just blend in with other students on this campus.

21. I feel really comfortable and natural with certain people.

22. I have enough chance to be alone and have peace and quiet.

23. I have a good understanding of people on this campus and how they think.

24. On this campus, I am misunderstood and different.

25. What I do today will make life better for me in the future.

26. There is someone I love or like very much.

27. I catch a lot of colds.

28. On the whole, I feel safe and secure.

29. I am proud of what I have accomplished.

30. I do not get enough affection from other people.

31. I am able to improve my life through my own efforts.

32. I know how to do the things that will get me what I want.

33. I understand myself very well.

34. There is a group of people who like me and accept me.

35. I do some very enjoyable things just because I want to.

36. Things are so unpredictable that it is hard for me to plan ahead.

37. Nobody listens to what I have to say.

38. My religion and spirituality gives meaning to my life.

39. I have respect for people who live good lives.

Appendix B

"My Life Then and Now"

Fifteen questions asked about students' current life now and their life when they were growing up.


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1.  The things I was taught while growing up
            are the same as for almost all of the people I'm around now.
            are the same for some of the people I'm around now.
            are the same for hardly any of the people I'm around now.
            are the same for none of the people I'm around now.

2.  Overall, I am comfortable
            with my current situation and don't see anything in it that
    I would want to change.
            with my current situation, but would, if possible, change a
    few things.
            with only a few things in my current situation, and would,
    if possible, change a lot of things.
            with almost nothing about my current situation, and would,
    if possible, change almost everything.

3.  My friends here
            are a lot like the people I knew when I was growing up.
            are somewhat similar to the people I knew when I was
    growing up.
            are more different than similar to the kind of people I
    knew when I was growing up.
            are completely different from the people I knew when I
    was growing up.

4.  Growing up, my friends and I
            did a lot of things together.
            did some things together, but not much.
            I had only a few friends, and we didn't do anything.
            I didn't have any friends where I grew up.

6.  My cultural heritage
            is very important to me, and I want to know more about it.
            is somewhat interesting to me, and I am curious about it.
            is not very important to me.
            is unimportant because it doesn't apply to what I am doing

7.  Most of the people I know here
            I found easy to get to know, and I like almost all of them.
            I had to spend time with to get to know, and I like some of
            I found that I don't care for, except for a few.
            I don't really care for.

8.  Compared to what I am accustomed to
            where I am now is no different.
            where I am now is only a little different.
            where I am now is quite a bit different.
            where I am now is totally different.

9.  Where I am living now
            is similar to where I will be making my life in the future.
            might be the kind of place I'll want to live, but I'm not
            I don't know what kind of place I'll make my home.
            is definitely not the kind of place I plan to live.

10. My old community/neighborhood
            is full of important and fond memories for me, and I want
    to return someday, or at least visit often.
            I often think about my old community, and might return for
    a visit.
            I occasionally think about my old community, but doubt that
    I would return, even for a visit.
            I don't think about my old neighborhood and community.

11. The "way-of-life" I grew up with as a child and during my youth
            is very important to me now.
            is somewhat important to me now.
            is not very important to me now.
            is not at all important to me now.

12. The things my parents taught me and that I learned in my family
            apply a lot to what I'm doing now.
            apply somewhat to what I'm doing now.
            apply only a little to what I'm doing now.
            don't apply at all to what I am doing now.

13. The people I know here
            are the kinds of people I'll be with in the future, and I
    like most of them.
            are people I'll have to be with, whether I like them or
    not, and this will be a little bothersome.
            are probably not the ones I'll know in the future--this is
    a temporary setting for me.
            are not the types of people I'll seek out in the future.

14. My major activities now (for example, working, being a student,
            are directly related in many ways to what I will be doing
    in the future.
            are related in a few ways to what I will be doing in the
            I don't know if they will be related to what I will be
    doing in the future.
            are not related to what I will be doing in the future.

15. Most of what I am doing now
            keeps me feeling productive and satisfied.
            will help me in the future, even if it feels frustrating
    at times.
            seems unlikely to help me in the future.
            will definitely not benefit me in the future.

Table 1
Factor Structure for the Basic Human Needs Scale


Item                                     1     2    3     4     5    6

8. ... no place where
I really belong.                  .76
17. ... not have enough
good friends ...                  .69
3. ... not much use
to anyone.                              .65
24. ... misunderstood
and different.                    .60
10. Life on this campus
is confusing.                           .58
9. ... difficult for me
to relax ...                            .53
30. ... do not get
enough affection ...                    .52              -.44
6. ... doing all that I can,
it still isn't enough.                  .50
20. ... wish I could
just blend in ...                 .45   -.48
23. ... have a good
understanding of people...        -.42
32. ... know how to do ...
things that ...
get me what I want.                           .71
31. ... am able to improve my
life through ... own efforts.           .65
29. ... am proud of what I have
accomplished.                           .56
18. Nobody else decides for
me what I should do.                          .51
12. ... almost no hope that I
can ... live the ... Life
I want ...                                    .47                   .53
16. ... have truly helped
some people.                            .47   .48
33. ... understand myself
very well.                                    .41        .55
34. There is a group of people
who like me and accept me.                         .72
35.  ... do some very enjoyable
things just because I want to.                .65
4. There are people on this
campus who really care for me.          .57
38. My religion and
spirituality gives meaning
to my life.                             .52
11. ... am respected by my
family and friends.                           .46
21. ... feel ... comfortable
and natural with certain
people.                                 .43
7. ... know what is natural
and right for me.                             .7
37. Nobody listens to
what I have to say.                                .56
26. There is someone I
love or like very much.                       .52
14. Right now, my
physical health is bad.                            .87
1. On the whole, my physical
health is good at present.                         -.86
13. ... has to look after him-
or herself, cannot depend on
other people.                                            .70
27. ... catch a lot of colds.                            .51

Percent of variance               10.8   8.6  8.2   6.1   5.4  4.6

Note. N = 195. All loadings greater than .40 are listed.

Table 2
Factor Structure for "My Life The and Now" Scale


Item                                        1      2      3       4

11. ... "way-of-life" I grew up with
... /a... very important ... now.          .79
12. ... things my parents taught me...
/apply ... to ... now.                     .69
6. My cultural heritage/is very
important to me,...                        .62                   .41
10. My old ... neighborhood/...
important and fond memories ...            .61
4. Growing up, my friends
and I/did a lot of things together.        .39
7. Most ... people I know here/
... easy to get to know,...                       .73
5. Things I enjoyed ... when ...
young .../ ... many ... here to
do ... things ...                                 .72
13. ... people I know here/are
the ... people I'll be with in the
future ...                                        .57
15. ... what I am doing now/keeps
me feeling productive and satisfied.                     .82
2. ... I am comfortable/
with my current situation ...                            .70
14. ... my major activities
now ... /are ... related ... To
[my] future.                                             .60
9. Where I am living now/ ...
similar to where I will be ... In
the future.                                              .50
1. ... things I was taught while
growing up/ ... same as for ... now.                             .72
8. ... what I am accustomed to/
... now is no different..                                        .50
3. ... friends here/ ... a lot like the
people ... when I was growing up.                                .50

Percent of variance                        14.4   13.3   13.2   11.3

Note. N = 190-192. All loadings greater than .39 are listed.

a. Stem phrase following the slash is the high-scored Likert statement

Table 3
Correlations between Basic Human Needs variables and "My Life Then and
Now" factors

                                   Basic Human
                       Lonely/     Assertive      Relational  Physical
                       Frustrated  Self-Directed  Commitment  Health
My Life Then and Now

Value Family Origins    -.01           .13           .18 *      -.09
Friendship Continuity   -.41 ***      -.06           .40 ***    -.09
Productive Activity     -.23 **        .36 ***       .19 *       .11
Old/New Comparability   -.16 *        -.03           .17 *       .17 *

Note. n = 174 - 180

* p < .05.

** p < .01.

*** p < .005.

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