‘Swallow your pride and fear’: the educational strategies of high-achieving non-traditional university students

Published on May 13, 2019in British Journal of Sociology of Education1.88
· DOI :10.1080/01425692.2019.1604209
Billy Wong12
Estimated H-index: 12
(University of Reading),
Yuan-Li Tiffany Chiu3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Imperial College London)
AbstractWith more graduates, degree outcomes have a renewed significance for high-achieving students to stand out in a graduate crowd. In the United Kingdom, over a quarter of undergraduates now leave university with the highest grade – a ‘first-class’ degree – although students from non-traditional and underprivileged backgrounds are the least likely. This article explores the experiences of high-achieving non-traditional (HANT) university students. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 30 final-year students who are on course to achieve a first-class degree from working-class, minority ethnic and/or mature backgrounds, we examine their pathways to academic success through identity works and negotiations. We argue that early successes are crucial for students to re-evaluate their self-expectations as students who can achieve in higher education, while self-esteem, pride or fear can prevent students from maximising their available resources and opportunities. Implications for practice and policy are discuss...
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