“I just want to be recognised for the amount of work I did put into it, but I still wasn’t good enough”: Making sense of the subjective self through relationships with teachers

Year: 2019

Author: McDonald, Sarah

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Girls who are the first-in-their-family (FIF) to attend university may contend with significant barriers during their schooling such as financial difficulties, substantial work or family commitments, as well as feeling out of place once they move into the university space (O’Shea 2014). While many girls in Australia experience education differently to previous generations, the current narrative around the success of girls obscures their highly differentiated experiences. My research examines the experiences of twenty-two first-in-family girls from diverse schooling sectors in the metro-area of Adelaide, Australia, as they transition from secondary school into their first year of university. Central to the analysis is an exploration of how these young women’s secondary schooling experiences influence their university transition, where many of the participants reflect on the affective nature of their differing relationships with teachers and their highly managed senior secondary years. Through examining the way in which young women in Australia experience the transition from secondary school to university, I seek to highlight the way first-in-family girls make sense of their subjective and social positionings as significant performers within the future-focused space of secondary school.