Improving Student Success by Understanding Reasons for, Types of, and Appropriate Responses to Stressors Affecting Asian Graduate Students in Canada

An increasing number of university students in Canada are from East Asian countries and enrolled in graduate programs. For these students, unique factors may contribute to a stressful study environment, which in turn can impact academic performance. This article draws on literature to identify five such factors and appropriate coping strategies: (1) occupational factors, (2) sociocultural factors, (3) academic factors, (4) gender, and (5) age. While acknowledging that stressors are complex and can have both additive and subtractive effects on each other, the article recommends several intervention strategies that may be deployed at the institutional level to address and mitigate stress-related risks to ultimately improve student persistence and success: (1) comprehensive social supports, in which graduate supervisors and peer groups play prominent roles; (2) development of problem-solving skills early in a student’s program, when acculturative and occupational stressors are most severe; and (3) enhanced campus awareness of sociocultural and occupational limits and benefits.

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