Challenges of high school learners’ transition into universities: A case of a South African Rural University
First year students in different universities in South Africa are usually confronted with series of challenges when transmitting from high schools into the universities. The environments most times are different from what exist in their high schools. The focus of this paper was to explore the academic hurdles confronting the undergraduate students at a rural university. Robert Havighurst's developmental task theory which talks about different problems faced by people at different stages of life was the theory that underpin this qualitative study. Twenty first year students were engaged in focus group in-depth interviews. Thematic content analysis of the data revealed themes that were findings of this study. Findings revealed that first year students, especially at the rural university were confronted with academic challenges such as problems of academic writing in higher education, teaching and learning in English, lack of computer knowledge or skills. Findings further indicated that the students also experience challenges in social relationships and access to support services in the universities due to their socio-economic background. The study therefore recommends that all stakeholders should provide adequate and necessary support services for the students to integrate them appropriately into the system.
Keywords: first year student, challenges, socio-economic background, institutional support, stakeholders, rural university