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Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

On-line version ISSN 2520-9868
Print version ISSN 0259-479X


MOOSA, Moeniera  and  LANGSFORD, Dale. "I haven't had the fun that is portrayed": First-year student expectations and experiences of starting at university. Journal of Education [online]. 2021, n.83, pp.127-145. ISSN 2520-9868.

Prospective students have both expectations and anxieties about what their imminent university experiences might entail. In this study, we compare first-year students' expectations with their experiences of being included and excluded while settling into university life. Our participants in this qualitative phenomenological research study were 322 first-year students. We use insights from social and pedagogic inclusion to critique Tinto's (1983) model of the transition of students from schooling to higher education settings. The findings indicate that participants experienced mastery of knowledge, procedures, and structures of the institution as a point of exclusion almost 8% more than they expected. The participants also experienced personal disposition and relationships to be a point of exclusion 24% less than they expected. We recommend that university orientation programmes place more focus on the academic expectations of university since this was an aspect on which participants did not focus much. In addition, these findings also have implications for how universities conceptualise and implement the move to online learning which is often viewed as the solution to increasing access to higher education.

Keywords : first-year students; inclusion; transmission into higher education; social interactions.

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