Challenges Faced By First-year Students At University

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University students suffer from several challenges especially in their first years. Students’ first year coarse at university appear to them as new experiences and most of the students do through a lot of difficulties during the time of adapting to new experiences in their lives.

Students suffer from academic challenges, for instance, according to Fook and Sidhu (2015) suggested that data analysis indicated eight main learning challenges faced by students in higher education namely: cognitive knowledge, becoming an active learner, coping with reading materials, instructional problem, language barrier, time management, burden assignments and culture difference in higher education. There are several descriptions about the challenges faced by first year students at universities. In this essay I am going to explore a number of challenges and how they affect students’ lives.

One of the biggest challenges affect the first-year students is choosing a major/course of study. Some students find it hard to find their role models so this will basically give them tough time to choose the course of study wisely. They might even end up doing some course not of their choice to avoid staying down for the whole year and some of these courses actually waste students’ time, simply because they found the course of their choice full. Garfield Gates Dec 2 (2015) also stated that there are a lot of pressure to choose a major that students are capable of doing and will benefit them in future in terms of finding job and having a better living standard.

Another description on the challenges faced by first year students is the feeling of homesickness. Scopelliti et al. One well known author (Tibero, 2010) described that homesickness has been frequently investigated as a potential negative consequence of relocation. During their adjustment, first year university students may experience a sense of displacement owing to the abrupt shift from their previous familiar environments. This experience of separation and its subsequent psychological symptoms has frequently been identified as homesickness. Some students have to endure homesickness for the whole first-year, because they never spent a lot of time away from home and their parents and they experience the sense of isolation, loneliness, feeling depressed, anxious, and withdrawn.

Different factors of a person’s personality were associated with vulnerability to homesickness and vulnerability to homesickness impacted the homesickness felt by the students, (Scopelliti and Tiberio, 2010). Homesickness may lead to face academic difficulties, low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, and obsessive thoughts and behaviors that may result in poor academic performance.

Above that, another type of description of the challenges faced by the first-year students is one that focused on finding suitable accommodation for a specific student. A student may get a place in the hostel or dorm, but the difficult thing is to find a student accommodation that is right for a student. Christie, Munro& Rettig (2002) suggested that the quality and condition of some students housing was an issue of concern, this was mostly acutely observed for vulnerable students including those making the first move from the parental home into the private rented sector and those on limited budgets. To be specific not all the students who came to further their studies in Windhoek or any other town will find themselves suitable places to stay. Some of them have no relatives living there or some of them their relatives are not willing to provide them place for accommodation. Such students are mobile as they keep moving from this house to another or from this flat to another.

In addition to the challenges discussed above, the transition to universities can lead to be the challenge of adapting to a new setting. The fact that all students came from different background; there are those who grew up in towns and can find it easier in adapting in new lifestyles and making friends than those who have grown up in villages because their lifestyle is limited. Students who have been in their villages are the mostly one considered as the victims of finding it difficult when adapting to new lifestyles and may experience/get a culture shock because of how things are compared to home.

It happens that in most cases that students came from isolated schools away from towns, from all cost of entertainment centers and its like education is the only installed their mind which is good at secondary levels, but a danger at tertiary levels. The moment students got into universities where everyone does what please them, no one to impose strict rules on them, many students fall victims from exposure of all kind of thing. Adjusting to new settings could also be a problem because there are those bad friends and might drive them in bad habits like smoking, drinking, going to clubs and partying instead of paying attention to their books.

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Furthermore, relationship can also be a challenge to first year students. (Garfield Gates, Dec 2,2015) stated that relationships are good, but they can be overwhelming. Sometimes they take a lot of time and can begin to encroach on your education. There are times in every relationship when a couple will have disagreement which can distract them from schoolwork and add to a stress level. Break-ups can drive some students even further into depression or into some emotional that might even lead them to death. First year students especially men can also be affected bad by the dressing code of the ladies at universities.

Students suffer financially especially when it comes to transportation as tuition fees as they are now rising and this can make some students to stay down even for a year or more, by the fact that if a student did not get a loan from the government or any other sponsor and parents will not afford to pay the tuition fees. These types of financial problems might bring the idea of seeking for job in students or might even end up having sugar dads that will at least provide them with taxi money or food.

Having a sugar dad as a first-year student could be a big problem, because they will not just give their money for nothing; they will obviously get something in return. This will disadvantage the students if they happen to find themselves pregnant or having some issues. This was well explained by (Garfield Gates, Dec 2, 2015) that first year students may run into debts, because tuition costs are rising at alarmingly high rates and add to that of housing, meals, transportation and textbooks and you have a recipe for unmanageable debt.

There can be financial stresses that make everything harder in students’ academic lives as worries about money become a huge issue leading to stress, anxiety and even depression and such situations may crowd out the brain’s ability to focus on long-term achievements. Many students who are living on their own for the first may end up involved in a cycle of overspending that come along with eating at the restaurants, buying new clothes and partying which can be very expensive and can increase overall debts. Students may drop out of school increasingly by the fact that parents cannot afford to pay all the expenses.

Last but not least, students find it difficult coping with university teaching techniques as the teaching strategies of universities and secondary schools are a bit different. Secondary schools’ teachers serve important role as mentors to their learners in ways that can help learners make a successful transition to university (Appleby, 2017), however at university students are expected to be independent and can only look up to lecturers when they need an academic help.

University students are expected to take on their responsibilities, do what they supposed to do without instructions from lecturers, but such responsibilities may be a big concern for first-year students as they appear to them as they are being asked a lot to take care of. Students thus find it hard to adapt to university systems, because some them were being spoon fed by the teachers at secondary school and at university it differs. Lecturers at university only explain their slides and leave it up to the students to do further research on notes. It’s difficult for many of them because they already used to the habits f spoon fed by the teachers.

All in all, due to the fact that first year students are facing challenges such as choosing a major, finding suitable accommodation, homesickness, financial problems, adapting to new settings, and adjusting to new teaching strategies, they need support from the government, parents, lecturers and everyone around them in the form of monetary, accommodation, good social connections at school, etc.

And as it has always been a pleasure for most of the high school learners to go and further their studies at the universities without knowing that they might face challenges that they never expect, they need to be told what challenges they might face when they come to institutions of high learning and how they should prepare themselves to face those challenges.

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