The present narrative research aimed to gain understanding of the narratives of first-generation students’ (FGSs’) transition into a historically white university (HWU) in South Africa. Globally, it has been recognised that, because of having parents who have not attended a tertiary institution, FGSs are more susceptible to challenges when making the transition to university.
Challenges in academic, social, and emotional transition to university have led to negative consequences such as withdrawing from university studies. South African literature highlights that such challenges in transition have been evident at HWUs. Yet, there is limited research on the transition of FGSs to an HWU. Existing literature has not considered the individual experiences of FGSs. Therefore, the present research focuses on the narratives of FGSs to gain an in-depth understanding of FGSs’ academic, emotional, and social transition to an HWU. Individual interviews were conducted with a sample of four first-year FGSs enrolled at the identified HWU. Crossley’s method of narrative analysis was adopted to interpret the findings, by focusing on the themes, imagery, and tone of the narratives. Results showed that the HWU interventions, for instance orientation week, academic tutors, and mentors, played a fundamental role in the transition of FGSs. It was clear that orientation week was crucial in facilitating the social integration of FGSs with the HWU. Once socially integrated, the FGSs developed a positive attitude that helped them overcome the challenges faced when making the transition to the HWU, such as increased workload. Ultimately, the FGSs were able to negotiate their academic, emotional, and social transition once they felt a sense of belonging at the HWU. Therefore, the FGSs’ narratives highlighted the importance of the university interventions and attaining social integration in FGSs’ transition to an HWU.
Mini Dissertation (MA)--University of Pretoria, 2019.