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The current study compared the relative importance of proactive coping and preventive coping in the adjustment to university life among 403 freshmen at a Chinese university and evaluated the function of proactive coping in the stress process. Participants completed the Future-Oriented Coping Inventory (Gan, Yang, Zhou, & Zhang, 2007), the Student-Life Stress Inventory (Gadzella, 1994), and the College Maladjustment Scale (Kleinmuntz, 1960). Bolger and Zuckerman’s (1995) differential exposure model of personality was borrowed to examine whether the students were exposed to different levels of current stress and to explore the impact of stress on maladjustment. The results suggest that stress has a mediating effect between proactive coping and maladjustment but not between preventive coping and maladjustment. The results also suggest that only proactive coping plays an important role in university adjustment, and proactive coping is a dispositional trait rather than a coping strategy.