Author(s): Bongani Innocent Dlamini, Reyagalaletsa Felicity Tom, Kathryn Anne Nel and Luther-King Junior Zogli
Background and Objective: For most students, adjusting to both social and academic life entails engenders a modicum of stress and emotional challenges for most students, resulting in risks of students drop-out. The current study sought insight and understanding into the adjustment experiences of first-year students at a previously disadvantaged tertiary institution of Higher learning in South Africa. Materials and Method: Qualitative research was conducted to establish the lived experiences of the participants. Four focus with eighteen first-year participants from different departments were utilised for data collection. Data were gathered via semi-structured interviews, which allowed probing. Thematic Content Analysis was employed to gather themes from the data. Results: The main results indicated that first-year students found life was different, many old familiar and predictable relationships disintegrating. However, they also found independence and the resilience to adapt to change. Positive adjustment experiences and coping mechanisms included working hard, interacting with lecturing staff and attending religious events, while negative ones included drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. Conclusions: The study recommended that orientation for first-year students is imperative and should incorporate a programme that helped first-year students understand the challenges they are likely to face in this new phase of their academic and social development.