Transition from High School to University


Transitionfrom High School to University

Thetransition from high school to university marks a critical period ina student’s life. The period can cause shock to students when theyare not prepared adequately. The two levels have considerabledifferences on expectations, learning methods, stakeholders, andinteraction levels. The first year students, sometimes calledfreshers, encounter stigma if they are not prepared appropriately forthe evolution. First-year students have high expectations regardinguniversity life. Students’ anticipations may not necessarily mirrorthe realities at an institution. As such, the organizations and theguardians need to prepare learners for smooth changeover to enhancethe realization of positive academic and personal goals. Studentsalso meet people from different backgrounds who have variousinterests and goals. Unfortunately, the majority remain unaware ofthe differences in learning methods and exposure between the twolevels.

ThesisStatement:Guardians,parents, and educational administrators at lower levels of learningneed to prepare students adequately for university life to preventthem from experiencing shock when their high anticipations fail tobecome a reality.


Campuslife is complicated due to conflicting priorities and activities.Students encounter challenges and opportunities that require balanceto ensure the attainment of educational goals. Academic, social lifeand family expectations are high and demanding for a student. It isalso noteworthy that many students face difficulties in creating alifestyle that satisfies their social, personal, and academic needs.Studies indicate that various institutions of higher learning areseeking ways to improve students’ retention and completion rates.The first and second years in campus life are the most important anddelicate for students. It is during the first two years thattransition shock cause students to drop out of school (Swain, 2008).Conflicting priorities and expectations can be reduced throughappropriate measures at individual and organizational level.

Additionally,university culture portrays multiple differences from high schoollife therefore, students find campus life different on many levels.Often, learners are expected to plan and manage their time to attendto social and academic life. It is the duty of a student to ensurecompletion of assignments and attendance to classes among otherduties. School’s administration has a little obligation in planningand managing students’ time. Universities do not have paraphernaliasuch as alarms and bells to remind students about the schooltimetable. Since the majority of the students are above 18 years,disciplinary actions are subject to institutional and country’slegal framework. Whereas much has been researched about thefirst-year experience at a university, Crisp, Palmer, Turnbull,Nettlebeck, and Ward (2009) observe that little has been done toaddress learners’ anticipations upon joining campus.

Further,fresh students from high school have trouble in trying to conform tocampus life due to inappropriate transition framework. Crisp, Palmer,Turnbull, Nettlebeck, and Ward (2009) assert that institutions needto provide opportunities to enable students to relay theirexpectations. The move is instrumental in the formulation of aconstructive framework for aligning students’ expectations andcampus realities Students’ expectations may not necessarily mirrorthe realities at an institution. Universities should provideopportunities, facilities, and resources to enhance the attainment ofstudent’s goals (Crisp, Palmer, Turnbull, Nettlebeck, &amp Ward,2009). According to Swain (2008), adequate preparation is necessaryand important for students transitioning from high school touniversity. It should start at lower levels of learning and continueonce the student selects his or her university of choice (Crisp,Palmer, Turnbull, Nettlebeck, &amp Ward, 2009).

Highschool and universities exhibit multiple differences ranging from thesystem of learning to experiences. At the university level, studentsget exposure to all manner of evils, including drugs, sex, and peerpressure. Apparently, one has the freedom to engage in activitiesthat suit his/her interests and needs (The University of Adelaide,2014). At high school level, students have limited exposure while theschool’s administrators manage their programmes. Further, studentshave closer interactions with the teachers. Attending classes ortaking assignments is mandatory, and has a great contribution towardsone’s grade (The University of Adelaide, 2014). Differences betweenthe two levels contribute transition shock from high school touniversity.

Accordingto Swain (2008), adequate preparation is necessary and important forstudents transitioning from high school to university. Positiveinteractions between the fresh and old students are recommended tohelp in understanding the institutional environment. The move isessential to help fresh students get a realistic picture ofuniversity life (Swain, 2008). Besides managing learning timetable,students need skills to manage personal finances. It is noteworthythat most students benefit from loans and other forms of sponsorship.Talking to family and friends will also help in the transitionprocess (Swain, 2008). Administrators at the institution need tooffer a refresher course to all new students to make them adaptfaster. It is important for administration to task the dean ofstudents to develop a timetable for new students as part offamiliarization with the school (Swain, 2008). Learning basic lifeskills before entering university aids in lessening the consequencesof transition shock.


Universitylife poses challenges to new students from high school. Theconflicting priorities and expectations can affect a studentnegatively leading to drop out or unsuccessful campus life.Institutions are required to develop appropriate induction programsto ensure a smooth transition for the new students. Family, fellowstudents, school administrators, and friends can also help a studentin lessening the effects of transition shock. The findings willcontribute to align the students’ expectations and the generalrealities in universities.


Crisp,G., Palmer, E., Turnbull, D., Nettelbeck, T., Ward, L., LeCouteur,A., Aspa S., Peter S., &amp Schneider, L. (2009). First year studentexpectations: Results from a University-Wide student survey. Journalof University Teaching and Learning Practice,6(1),11-26.

Swain,H. (2008 , Sept 9). Thetransition from school to university.Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved on July 21, 2016 from

TheUniversity of Adelaide, (2014). Schoolto uni: What’s the difference?Retrieved July 21, 2016, from The University of Adelaide: