This paper argues that transition is not a one-off event that occurs when students first enter universities but is an on-going process that is repeated over time. We draw on qualitative data from a longitudinal project on ‘non-traditional’ students who entered a research-intensive university in Scotland direct from further education colleges. This cohort of 45 was asked about their views on college and university learning in a study that was conducted throughout their time at university; a sub-sample of 15 was then followed up ten years later. Our data suggest that four significant transitions, or set of critical moments, can be identified: the loss of a sense of belonging on coming to university; learning to fit in by the end of the first year; changing approaches to learning and belonging in the final years of study; changing selves in the years following graduation. At each point positive relationships with peers and staff made a significant difference to how these transitions were managed. Moreover, the changes experienced continued to have an impact on the personal and professional lives of the cohort.
- transition processes
- changing selves