The first year experience
First-year students are undergoing a significant transition in their lives. They are forming new understandings about how University work, as well as their academic career and forming new relationships with their student peers. There is so much to learn that it is easy to become overwhelmed. This can be compounded when the student is unfamiliar University life. The University of South Australia is an equity University, and as such, our first year students may be from disadvantaged backgrounds, perhaps being even the first in their family to be engaging in University studies.
The confidence levels of most first-year students is initially low. Students have often put a lot at risk by electing to come to University. They have told their family and friends what they are doing - and they will be looking for assurances that they have indeed made the right choice to build their confidence in their program.
All these can impact on student grades (success) in their first year and if they stay enrolled in their courses and programs (student retention). Success and Retention are performance indicators in higher education - for those universities that are able to do it well, there is a funding flow on effect.