Mind the gap! Students’ expectations and early experiences of higher education

  • Charlie Smith LJMU
Keywords: student expectations, student experience, retention, student belonging, student transition, creative arts, first year experience, open days


This paper presents outcomes of a research project which explored the correlation between Level 4 (first year) students’ expectations of what higher education might be like, and their early experiences of it.  A focus group of students enrolled on different programmes in the School of Art and Design at LJMU revealed that there was generally close alignment between their expectations and experiences appertaining to the subject matter of their programme; however, disparities existed in several other areas.  Some of these related to their course, such as pace of learning and personal tutoring, but most were associated with the wider higher education experience.  The paper discusses these in the context of wider research on retention, and concludes with recommendations for addressing the disparities.

Research In Practice