Transitioning Through University
Once students begin their courses at university, they experience further change transitionary challenges. Change, as we have seen already, is inevitable: “an inexorable part of our existence, a constant challenge and something that has the power to make or break us.” (Barry, 2021, p. 30). Transitioning through third level education is a key transitional phase during the early decades of our lives, one in which behavioural habits are formed – both good and bad, productive and destructive, positive and negative.
Students experience different strains and fluctuating stress levels throughout their degree. This could be due, in part to demands and expectations increasing each year. For example, in the latter years of university, students may have less academic support but more academic pressure due to assessments counting towards their final degree. For students on a three-year programme in England, Bewick et al. (2010) noted university triggered anxiety, with psychological well-being overall fluctuating, although in the final year of study depression rates were highest.
In a longitudinal study with university students in Scotland, however, Tett, Cree, and Christie (2017) described how students’ understanding of academic requirements changed over time, but in later years they understood themselves better – so this could be deemed as an improvement in student well-being over time. Conley et al. (2020) had similar findings when they found that for students in the USA on a four-year degree programme, psychological functioning improved in the final 2 years.
Transitioning from post-primary to university education may perhaps always be a challenge for students, but an intervention that aims to offer social inclusion and equal access to physical activity could help make this challenge an easier one to surmount. In the process of being increasingly more active, these students might be afforded the opportunity to grow and develop as human beings. This personal and structural assistance could then, in turn, facilitate the students’ academic success. Having addressed transitions into university, let’s now discuss transitions through university.