Sumner, L., Ralley, R., Pressler, Shirley J. and Hornby Atkinson, P. (2004) A study of adjustment amongst first generation entrants to higher education. Proceedings of the British psychological society, 12 (2). p. 150. ISSN 1350-472X

Objectives: To explore the impact of a range of psychosocial factors on the subjective experience of new entrants to Higher Education.
Design: A longitudinal study which combines convergent qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
Methods: A cohort of first generation H.E. students completed health related measures, including, measures of coping, subjective well-being, self-efficacy, self-esteem and social support. Students also wrote narrative accounts in order to capture the broader experiences related to entry to Higher Education more fully.
Analysis: Scores on the range of structured measures were calculated and examined in relation to social background and themes emerging from the students’ individual narrative accounts.
Conclusion: In the cohort explored, particular profiles of coping strategies including clusters of negative and positive coping strategies emerged. In addition there are contrasts between the experience of this group and students who have familial experience of Higher Education. These are discussed in conjunction with themes identified in the discourse. Psychology reveals potential vulnerabilities in the widening of participation in Higher Education and we discuss how good practice can be informed.

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