Coping Processes of South African First-Year University Students: An Exploratory Study
AbstractSouth African higher education institutions (HEIs) face significant challenges with high first-year student dropâ€‘out rates due to various stressors students are facing. The current study explores the coping of first-year students studying at a South African university. This qualitative study followed anexploratory, descriptive, interpretive strategy to gain a deeper understanding of studentsâ€™ coping during their first academic year at university. Ten participants were recruited through a trusted gatekeeper using purposive voluntary and later snowball sampling methods. Data were collected using theMmogo method Â® and semi-structured individual follow-up interviews. Interactive qualitative and thematic analyses generated three themes: (1) the availability of and access to coping resources for first-year students; (2) coping strategies first-year students rely on to manage stressors at university; and (3) the effectiveness of selected coping strategies. Understanding the coping of first-year students could assist HEIs in intervening and supporting first-year students appropriately, to enhance theirfirst-year experience (FYE) and overall student wellâ€‘being. Though limited to a small qualitative study, the contribution to FYE literature is through exploring nuanced coping resources, strategies, and the effectiveness thereof for students, which challenges the â€˜one-size-fits-allâ€™ approach many universitiesmay use. However, there are strategies and awareness of resources that could, in general, be helpful.
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