First year students into the university

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Transition of first year students into the university can be difficult for some students as they are required to adapt into a new environment and learning styles that is different from what they have learned during their previous years in school. This report will provide a discussion about the issues affecting the transition of first year students into university life using the topics discussed in FAP101 and other related texts. There are different issues identified in this report and recommendations have also been provided in order to help students in their first year in university and also to help institutions to help their students adapt into university environments and learning styles.These recommendations are as follows;

It is essential for universities to introduce or update orientation programs for students before starting university.

Institutions should let the students know about the workloads, the assessment styles and writing conventions during the orientation week.

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It is also important for the institutions to provide highly trained tutors that can work with students to help them with their problems or uncertainty about the topics in a particular course subject.

Some students feel more comfortable when they have more friends that go to the same university as them.

Students should be aware of workloads and different styles of assessments and also with writing conventions.

-Before commencing into university, as a student you are also able to attend open days, even during your HSC year, most universities are already organising open days for new students to give more information to students about the institutions and what to expect.

Introduction

Making a transition of first year students into academic life at an Australian tertiary institution can be one of the most challenging experiences. It is challenging not only in terms of academic purposes but also as it is the stage in students life where they will most likely to experience emotional, financial and social problems. As a student of tertiary school there will be huge adjustments that will have to be made by students such as adjustments to new learning and teaching styles, assessments styles and writing practices. Despite it all, transition to university life can be challenging to some students yet it is still a very awarding experience they will ever have.

2. Definition

Transition is simply defined as moving from one level to another, it is a process and not an event in which it symbolise change, it can be seen as a motion from familiar into unfamiliar (Levin, 1987), for example environment. Transition of first year students is defined as moving up from high school into tertiary levels, changes that all first year students entering university has to tackle on. "Student transition" is also describes as a category of transitional changes that is needed for students in entering academic life in universities, it is a process of moving from one community to another (Tinto,1988).

The student's relationship with tertiary education is not the same as the one they had in primary or secondary. University has a more complex and comprehensive environment than secondary schools, and many students give up their closeness with their families, friends, and home to cope within the university life for a few years. The students' transition is all about the students dealing with the whole university life and not just simply the university as formal and more academic institutions. Students have to adjust into a new learning styles and new surroundings, also with the people in the institutions they will be interacting with during their university life. The students will be likely to deal with a whole form of challenges during their period of time studying in university: social, personal and intellectual. These transitions are sometimes spoken out in high schools or during the last year of high school to give students a picture of how university will be like for them when they enter it but the truth is that some can be true but many are not.

3. STUDENTS' TRANSITION

Anthropologist Van Gennep, Tinto (1988) has stated that the cycle of entering the university moves through three distinct stages - separation, transition and incorporation.

3.1 Separation

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- during the separation stage, student will require to disconnect their selves from their connections of prior relationships with communities such as high school or home environments or anything that are atleast less stressful in order to adapt university life.

3.2 Transition

- students will find themselves interacting to other people with a completely new environment and learning strategies, and in order to make connections they have to blend in. During the transition stage, students have not quite accomplished the separation stage and still not obtained the academic and social interaction with the new stage of their learning. As Anthropologist Van Gennep, Tinto proposed, it is the stage where the process of moving from one community to another is taking place and he also said that this stage can be more or less stressful and difficult for some students. The first two stages is where students are often in greater risk of dropping out from their courses (Hillman, 2005)

3.3 Incorporation

- means "inclusion", it is the final stage of the model that has been proposed by Tinto. It is the stage where students face difficulties in adopting the standards suitable to the new environment or setting, and in this case, it is the university or any tertiary levels. In order to accomplish this stage, students have to allocate contacts with different members from the institutions to set up social and academic connections.

4. ISSUES AFFECTING STUDENTS' TRANSITION

There are three identified main sections in which transition can be problematic, they are as follows; students' anxiety, adjustment processes, and the continuity with respect to the curriculum (Hargreaves, et al 1996). Although they only have studied primary and secondary transitions, it is also identified that their findings are also relevant to other contexts such as the university or in the workplace. People tend to worry their selves when entering a new stage of their life, just like how students worry when entering university life. This can be a big problem when all they think about is the negative sides. The second section is the adjustment processes, as a new university students, you will have to adjust to the new environment and new learning styles. Continuity with respect to subject course studies can be problematic because some people are not aware of the difference of the subject studied in high school and universities, in terms of workloads and assessments style. If these problems that have been stated by Hargreaves, Earl and Ryan (1996) continued, this could lead to withdrawal or dropping out of a student from university studies.

4.1 Expectations of students prior to commencement

During the final year of secondary school, most institutions chose to expose the students into basic academic strategies. It is to help supplement their students' learning in to more academic stage to give them a basic image of how university will be like when they get to tertiary levels but despite it all, it is not enough. Most students have failed to adapt the academic transition when they enter university because they only have a basic knowledge about university life. The most common expectations first year students have of university life are as follows:

-having fun during their studies,

-meeting new people and making friends with them,

- Freedom that they never had during secondary studies.

-more interesting subjects

When students start their first few weeks in the university, they will find that the expectations they've had prior to commencing university studies are actually the other way around. It is actually difficult to make friends, and that they will find out that there are much heavier workloads than they have expected during their high school life, and more.

4.2 The most common issues faced by first year student

are the following:

- fitting in to the new environment, most students undertaking their first year at the university are having hard times fitting into the new environment. University campuses are wide and groups of buildings can be associated with the institutions. Finding rooms can be a real hassle especially when the university is consists of different buildings.

-making new friends, most students often start their first year at the university excited in making friends and meeting new people but sometimes, university is not described as a friendly place, as more students going to the university are more focus on their academic life than their social life.

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-University workload, this is one of the issues that cause a student to withdraw and give up their studies. It is because of their lack of confidence and usually these types of students are the ones who do not know how to manage their time for every subject which ended them up of leaving behind their study course.

5. CONCLUSION

First year at universities are highly important in students life as they are now entering a different and a higher stage of education, it is significant yet it's very challenging. Making the transition to academic life at an Australian university can be one of the most difficult and challenging experiences faces by first year students. Transition to the university life have also been one of the reasons why some students withdraws from their study, as they have experienced hard times or lack of self confidence to tackle the new stage of education. In order for students to achieved this stage of their life many institutions have introduced programs to help students and encourage them on how to be more focused in their studies and how to overcome the issues discussed in this report.

6. RECOMMENDATIONS

It is essential for universities to introduce or update orientation programs for students before starting university. Institutions should provide a culture of university and also give the students advice in entering the university. It is also the students responsible to research information about the university they are planning to enroll in, in order to have knowledge about it when starting their tertiary education.

Institutions should let the students know about the workloads, the assessment styles and writing conventions during the orientation week, so students can learn how to manage their times prior to commencing university studies. It is also a good idea for institutions to provide programs during the orientation week for first years students to get to know each other

It is also important for the institutions to provide highly trained tutors that can work with students to help them with their problems or uncertainty about the topics in a particular course subject. Also a highly trained counsellor to help students with their problems outside university life, such as family problems and help them assist and overcome these issues to maintain the grades.

Some students feel more comfortable when they have more friends that go to the same university as them. In order to make new friends and get the ability to get to know other people from the university, you have to be friendly to them and enhance your communication skills. Respect others if you want them to respect you too.

Students should be aware of workloads and different styles of assessments and also with writing conventions. Students also have to be aware that entering a tertiary stage means that they have to be thinking more critically and more academic as they are now treated as adult. They should also be aware that lecturers are not as reliable as the teachers you had in high school, they expect you to be acting and thinking academically.

Before commencing into university, as a student you are also able to attend open days, even during your HSC year, most universities are already organising open days for new students to give more information to students about the institutions and what to expect.