Publication Details

O'Shea, S. E. (2007). Well I got here ... but what happens next? Exploring the early narratives of first year female students who are the first in the family to attend university. Journal of Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association, 29 (April 2007), 36-51.


There is much literature and research pertaining to the First Year Experience but little that acknowledges or explores how this varies between different cohorts of students. The so-called massification of higher education has led to what Rendon (1994) terms a ‘tapestry of differentiation’ (p.33) amongst students. No longer is the typical candidate a school leaver originating from predominantly white, middle class enclaves where the tradition of attending further education is well established. Instead, many students now access university through non-traditional modes of entry or may be the first in the family to attend such an institution and as such, may not readily identify with or adhere to the values and practices found there. This article highlights the initial experiences of a group of female students, who are all first generation university students, as they enter undergraduate study at a regional university campus. Exploring the early narratives of these subjects not only provides clearer insight into the types of obstacles initially encountered but also facilitates some understanding of the motivation and persistence required by individuals in their academic pursuits .

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