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Abstract

Adjustment to the first year of university involves engaging with the university culture and developing a sense of belonging or attachment. Difficulty making the transition to university can result in students deferring or withdrawing from their courses. While mature-age students experience many of the challenges of all first-year students such as social dislocation, academic anxiety, and unrealistic expectations, they are more likely than school-leaver students to have family responsibilities and time constraints. The ability to manage competing demands on their time can affect their participation in campus-based activities and negatively impact their sense of belonging to the university. This paper reports on the adjustment to the first year of university of 40 mature-age students, measured through an analysis of their responses on a 55-item survey questionnaire. The findings suggest that the mature-age students adjusted well, academically; however, they had lower measures of adjustment in their social and personal adjustment. The challenge for universities is to identify and respond to the needs of mature-age students during their transition to university.

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