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The experience of transition from high school to university : a qualitative exploration of perceptions of first year female students at King Saud University

Alshamrani, Lubna Mohammed


Lubna Mohammed Alshamrani


Nigel Wright


Student retention has been one of the critical areas affecting university staff and students. Efforts to understand and remedy this problem have drawn research attention to the issue of transition. This study explored the problems faced by first year female students during transition to King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. Qualitative research was conducted, using an interpretive case study framework, over a longitudinal time-scale. The viewpoints of 21 participants from three faculties were captured through three phases of semi-structured interviews: one within the third week of the first semester, one at the end of the first semester, and one in the middle of the second semester. The purpose of doing so was to obtain insight into how students’ perceptions of the academic, social, and institutional (for example, support) aspects of the university changed over time as they acquired new experiences in the university setting.
The findings indicate that first-year students often did not sufficiently understand the differences between high school and university in term of their responsibilities as independent learners. They were therefore unprepared for the academic and social changes they faced. Students often struggled to cope with the university’s academic demands, as they lacked a prior realistic comprehension of the learning and teaching mode in university. Socially, students were somewhat isolated at university, as a result of not participating in extra-curriculum activities and having limited relationships with lecturers. Their university participation was mainly confined to academic work. Over time, many of the students recognized the limitations of the academic skills and strategies they brought to university. First semester examinations prompted a crisis, which encouraged students in the second semester, to devote more time to their studies, to enhance their skills and competence, and to seek help from inside and outside sources. The findings challenge some aspects of existing theory. For example, students did not show a clear linear progression through the transition stages, with a marked separation from their former life. They also adopted support strategies that potentially expand the notion of communities of practice.


Alshamrani, L. M. (2017). The experience of transition from high school to university : a qualitative exploration of perceptions of first year female students at King Saud University. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Nov 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 24, 2023
Keywords Education
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Education Studies, The University of Hull
Award Date Oct 1, 2017


Thesis (2.5 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 Alshamrani, Lubna Mohammed. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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