On the borders: adjusting to academic, social and cultural practices at an Australian university
Adjustment to university is challenging for students as they navigate a path through new academic, social and cultural practices. Some may feel on the borders, marginalised by their background. Issues such as adjustment to university life, independence, performance expectations, establishing friendships, technological competence, cultural capital, engaging with others and financial difficulties are addressed. Widening participation and the establishment of equitable access are worthy goals for higher education. This paper investigates cultural characteristics typical of universities, and of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and, implicitly, influences such as the schools, communities and families that have shaped these students. The paper reports on perceptions of first-year teacher education students at a university in Sydney, Australia, and explores ways of responding to potential cultural mismatches. It reveals their experiences of university life and sheds light on resources, services and cultural changes that could help in their adjustment and success.
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