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Understanding the transition to university

The current study aimed to provide an understanding of the transition to university for students and the factors that are associated with both positive and negative transitions. The research aimed to identify what coping strategies and resources students accessed during this time. Participants consisted of 135 first-year university students at the University of Waikato. Participants completed an online survey which included measures of change, psychological distress, significant life events, alcohol use, coping strategies, resource access and general demographics. The majority of students in the study were experiencing psychological distress that was considered within the normal range. However, approximately two in five students were experiencing distress above a normal range. Students who were living out of the family home for the first time, those who reported more significant life events, and those using avoidant emotion and active emotion coping were more likely to report higher levels of overall distress. However, avoidant emotion coping was the only factor that significantly predicted distress. Students self identified overall level of change was related to overall distress, which suggests that it may be students perceived overall level of change that impacts on their well-being rather than the specific changes itself. Thirty percent of the students in the study identified alcohol use of a hazardous level. However, no relationship was seen between alcohol use and psychological distress. Instead, it appears that alcohol use in university consists of a social factor rather than a way of coping. Student reported low use of services and many students reported not knowing about the service they could access. Students who were experiencing psychological distress above a normal range were not more likely to access students support services than students who were reported in the normal range. The results of the study should be taken into account when considering transitioning students into university life and the services that are offered to students. Students need support during the transition to university. However, not all students are aware of or access the supports that are available. The consideration of students’ experience at only one point of their university journey was a limitation of the current study. Future research could examine the experience of university students over there time at university using a longitudinal approach. This would allow for an understanding of how distress and coping may change.
Type of thesis
Clifton, K. N. (2017). Understanding the transition to university (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11445
University of Waikato
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