Given the challenging transition from secondary school into university, this dissertation aimed to explain how students can be supported to be academically successful in the first year at university. An important result is that the transition from secondary education to university is experienced by students in different ways. Students were profiled as Active Gliders, Passive Gliders, Passive Low Performers and Negative Strugglers, based on their effort for learning, academic self-efficacy belief and performance. These results indicate that from the perspective of these different profiles, targeted support for students during the transition might be most effective for improving first-year academic success. In addition, this dissertation shows that effort for learning plays an important role during the transition to university. How engaged students are at secondary school determines to what extent they show effortful learning behaviour during the first months at university. This effortful learning behaviour seems to be influenced by a pre-academic programme intervention, aimed at giving students a head start. The pre-academic programme can improve student-faculty interaction and student-peer interaction of first-year students, and positively influence students’ academic performance. Finally, the results in this dissertation indicate that students have different reasons to attend university (such as career perspective or for personal development), but that these reasons seem to have no influence on their academic success in the first year. The educational practice should take this into account when supporting the process of choosing a degree programme for prospective students.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Higher Education, Transition, First-Year Student, Adjustment, Academic Success
Promotor S.E. Severiens (Sabine) , W.H.A. Hofman (Adriaan) , M. Meeuwisse (Marieke)
Publisher Erasmus University Rotterdam
ISBN 978-94-028-1487-3
Persistent URL
Note For copyright reasons there is a (partial) embargo for this dissertation
van Herpen, S.G.A. (2019, June 21). A Head Start into Higher Education : How students academically prepare and adjust for a successful transition into university. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from