The habitus and social capital of first-year students: A case study

18 Jul 2016

This paper describes a first-year student?s experience at a South African university of technology by exploring how his habitus and social capital influenced his social and academic integration into higher education. This student was part of a group of eight participants whose first-year experience and academic performance were investigated through a series of in-depth one-on-one and focus group interviews. In order to obtain information that captures the student?s habitus and social capital and explore its influence on the way the student negotiates his interaction in the first year of study, we focused on the following themes: family life, transition to university and experiences on campus. The study provides an analysis of one student?s negotiation of the academic and social systems at university and the role that habitus and social capital play in the way he experiences university life and performs academically. The paper attempts to contribute to research in this area by using a conceptual framework that foregrounds a deep understanding of pre-entry academic and non-academic factors influencing the first-year experience and academic performance, specifically of disadvantaged students.