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Theme: Transition and Adjustment

Calm and composed on the surface, but paddling like hell underneath:
The Transition to University in New Zealand

Sue Purnell
College of Education
Massey University
New Zealand


At the end of 2001, a number of first year students were interviewed, to try to discover their experiences and perceptions of their first year at university. Although the sample interviewed was quite small, some of the things they have to say about their year are enough to keep us awake at night. From the excitement of 'mind stretching' challenges, to the depths of feeling stupid, out of place and inept; from failing all but one paper, to the excitement of the first 'A', and beyond, these students have had quite a year.
The students' experiences are explored using a framework described by Nicholson in the early 90's. (Nicholson 1990) The model "The Transition Cycle" was developed in relation to career change, however it appears to have considerable relevance to the transition to University. Whilst acknowledging that there are many other transition models, this paper explores the potential of Nicholson's model, to analyse studentís experience. This paper describes work in progress.

Full Paper in MS Word


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