Trajectories of Perceived Stress among Students in Transition to College: Mindset Antecedents and Adjustment Outcomes

Shan Zhao, Yanjia Zhang, Cheng Yu, Hongfeng Zhang, Mingjun Xie, Pujing Chen, Danhua Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


There is growing evidence of a clear association between students’ perceived stress and their adjustment to life at college. However, the predictors and implications of distinct changing patterns of perceived stress during the transition to college life are less clear. To address these research gaps, the current study aims to identify distinct patterns of perceived stress trajectories among 582 Chinese first-year college students (M age = 18.11, SDage = 0.65; 69.40% female) across the first 6 months upon enrollment. Three distinct profiles of perceived stress trajectories, i.e., low-stable (15.63%), middle-decreasing (69.07%), and high-decreasing (15.29%), were identified. Moreover, individuals who followed the low-stable trajectory showed better distal outcomes (specifically, higher levels of well-being and academic adjustment) 8 months after enrollment than those who followed the other two trajectories. Furthermore, two types of positive mindset (a growth mindset of intelligence and a stress-is-enhancing mindset) contributed to differences in perceived stress trajectory, either independently or jointly. These findings highlight the significance of identifying different patterns of perceived stress among students during the transition to college, as well as the protective roles of both a stress mindset and a mindset of intelligence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1873-1886
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Academic adjustment
  • College students
  • Mindset of intelligence
  • Perceived stress trajectories
  • Stress mindset
  • Well-being


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