Given the challenging transition from secondary school into higher education, this quasi-experimental study measured the effects of a preacademic programme (i.e. before starting at university) on student–faculty interactions, student–peer interactions, sense of belonging, and first-year academic performance. Fifty-eight first-year students participated in a pre-academic programme (i.e. the experimental group) focused on changing their perceptions of effective learning behaviour to enhance high-quality interaction with peers and faculty, their sense of belonging, and academic performance. A control group comprised 237 first-year students who did not attend the programme. Participation in the programme enhanced formal student–faculty and student-peer interactions, as well as informal student-peer interactions. No effect was found on sense of belonging. Furthermore, participation in the programme enhanced students’ attained grade during the first course and enhanced their first-year cumulative GPA. The results suggest that participation in the pre-academic programme could give students a head start in higher education.

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Studies in Higher Education

van Herpen, S., Meeuwisse, M., Hofman, A., & Severiens, S. (2019). A head start in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 45(4), 862–877. doi:10.1080/03075079.2019.1572088