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

Wong, B. ORCID: and Chiu, Y.-L. T. (2019) ‘Swallow your pride and fear’: the educational strategies of high-achieving non-traditional university students. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 40 (7). pp. 868-882. ISSN 0142-5692

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01425692.2019.1604209


With more graduates, degree outcomes have a renewed significance for high-achieving students to stand out in a graduate crowd. In the UK, 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 paper 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 discussed, including the reflective advice from HANT students toward academic success.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:83135
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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