Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Department of Sociology and Anthropology


Matthew B. Ezzell


The first year of college is often a fresh start for students. For many, it is the first time away from home where students will have freedom to make their own decisions. During this year students gain new experiences, new knowledge, and a new understanding of themselves. However, it is commonly known that the transition into college is often accompanied by many challenges, including, homesickness, depression, inability to fit in, and financial instability. Often, students’ identities can influence the types of challenges they encounter throughout this transition. This study determines correlations between five social identities and challenges that first year students face. These identities are: gender, race/ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation and religious affiliation. In order to explore how these identities influence students’ transitions into college, and investigate students’ involvement in on-campus organizations that may aid in navigating these challenges, I used both the results of a general survey administered to current undergraduate students at a large, state school in the southeastern United States, which I call Happy Mood University, followed by a focus group session with eleven participants. This study demonstrates that inequalities that exist in the larger culture pertaining to gender, race/ethnicity, social class, and sexual orientation pervade into college culture, and thus influence the transition into college for many students. This project helps us understand barriers to integration into college life and offers avenues for change. By determining these correlations, professionals in higher education can address common challenges and provide more successful transitions for first year college students.



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