International Student Experiences: Examining Acculturative Stress, Depression, Academic Success, Belonging, & Authenticity


This study examined whether Mount Holyoke international students experienced more depression, lower sense of belonging, lower academic success, and lower authenticity than domestic students. The study further predicted that international students’ experiences with higher acculturative stress would be positively associated with depression and authenticity, but negatively associated with sense of belonging, and academic success, examining how Counselling Services moderated that relationship. 206 undergraduate students from Mount Holyoke, 75 international and 131 domestic students (comparison group), completed a survey about their experiences. There were no significant differences between groups, except in accepting external influences, where international students scored higher than domestic students on this authenticity subscale. Acculturative stress significantly predicted higher depression, lower academic confidence, and lower sense of belonging scores for international students. International students also participated in individual interviews, 4 of which were analysed to identify what factored into their mental health and academic experiences, as well as how they perceived Counselling Services and what reasons they gave for accessing or not accessing their services. This study contributed to research about international student adjustment at Mount Holyoke College, providing insight into how the negative effects of these cultural adjustments can be addressed.



Mount Holyoke College, international students, mental health, acculturative stress, student adjustments, counselling, depression, academic success, sense of belonging, authenticity