Exploring Hurdles Associated with the Orientation of Freshmen in the Institutions of Higher Learning. The Case of Two Former Black Universities in South Africa
AbstractStudents’ orientation is an important strategy for acclimatizing new student to the higher education milieu. However, the challenge of ever burgeoning cases of student dropout raises questions on whether higher education institutions are adequately acquainting new students to the institutional demands and realities. The purpose of the study was to explore hurdles associated with the orientation of new entrants to institutions of higher learning. Case studies of two universities in South African higher education students whose student bodies are largely first generation and from low socio-economic backgrounds were adopted. Such students have a dire need for orientation programmes. Data were collected through interviews, and semi structured questionnaires and document analysis. Participants for the study consisted of 220 first year students who responded to a semi-structured questionnaire. Also 4 staff responsible for the running of student orientation programs were purposively selected to participate in semi structured interviews. The data was triangulated to determine emerging themes. The study findings revealed the following hurdles emanating pertaining to orientation program: communication challenges, inconsistent enforcement of policies and lack of co-operation among stakeholders and poor understanding of the purpose of orientation, and negative attitudes of students towards orientation programmes. The study recommends a comprehensive approach where all the stakeholders should be made aware of orientation and also take active part in the design of the programme activities so as to own the programme and its goals.
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