What will happen when I’m in university?

The entry into Higher Education is a reason for celebration for many students who have just arrived in High School, because they have conquered their place in the university space, thus overcoming a social barrier of acceptance and often attending to the demands of parents or family. There are, however, own expectations from the moment of entry, linked to personal constructs that are susceptible to confirmation or not, and may change or cease to exist, according to the changes that occur throughout the academic life and that can generate difficulties so that the student is integrated into university life.

According to Soares et al. (2014), due to the many changes that the student finds in entering Higher Education, the adaptation can be difficult because, beyond the expectations created by the student, there are critical changes that relate to life in the university environment: the subjects follow with more flexibility , each class takes place in a less sequenced way than in school, the schedule is more flexible, teachers perform functions, such as teaching, regulating subjectivities, analyzing and evaluating the group of students, and drawing a relation between what was taught in room and what happens outside of it. All this can bring several difficulties in the process of adaptation to the university and, in some cases, generate dropouts.

Another issue that requires special attention in terms of expectations and difficulties of adaptation is that there is a very heterogeneous group of students today. The current profile of students attending university has changed over time. Education has ceased to be elitist and students of the most disadvantaged social class make up the new university body, since access to Higher Education has been progressively democratized through a policy of affirmative action. Although access has been made flexible, the student’s stay in the Institution of Higher Education (HEI) is still a problematic issue.

According to the National Institute of Studies and Educational Research Anísio Teixeira (INEP, 2014) are listed 2,391 institutions, 301 public and 2,090 private. The total number of courses offered increased to 32,049, including attendance and distance, between public and private HEIs. Private institutions accounted for 21,199 total courses. The number of enrolled in the general total increased to 7,305,977 in institutions nationwide, 1,932,527 in the public and 5,373,450 in the private. These data represent a growth of 3.8% in the years between 2012 and 2013, being 1.9% in the public network and 4.5% in the private sector. The total number of tickets in Brazil in 2013 was 2,742,950 (17%), of which 531,846 were public and 2,211,104 were private. The total number of graduates including the two modalities, that is, attendance and distance, was 991,010, of which 229,278 were in public institutions and 761,732 were in private institutions (INEP, 2014). It is important to note that the difference between the number of students enrolled and the number of students is very different.

It should be pointed out that diverse factors can contribute to the change of course or to avoidance in Higher Education in Brazil in both private and public institutions. According to Silva Filho, Montejunas, Hipólito and Lobo (2007) are issues related to the academic context, but of different natures. According to Igue, Bariani and Milanesi (2008), the expectation of the university is one of the factors relevant to the adaptation, integration and satisfaction of the student and, therefore, can influence in their stay in Higher Education, since most of the time is what stimulates or discourages the continuation of the financial investment and / or time to complete the chosen course (Silva Filho et al., 2007).

Polydoro’s (2000) research indicates that, usually in private institutions, the problem of avoidance is related to financial problems. The Mercuri study (1999) points out as causes of avoidance a low degree of commitment to the course, financial problems, housing and problems of academic integration, as well as aspects related to family and friends. In the study by Vasconcelos, Almeida and Monteiro (2009), we present the choice by mistake of the course, the difficulties to follow the institution’s requirement level, as well as the frustrated expectations of the students, among others.

Expectations about the academic environment may be related to strictly academic issues such as the course, the subjects, the assessments regarding social and interpersonal relations, study environment, equipment provided by the institution of Higher Education, etc. It is from the academic expectations that the student envisions an adequate environment his / her competences. The consonance between their capacities and the idealized environment leads the student to be stimulated, otherwise he may be discouraged and have difficulties in adapting to the student environment (Almeida, Ferreira, & Soares, 1999; Schleich, Polydoro , And Santos, 2006; Soares & Almeida, 2005). It is worth remembering that, academic expectations involve thoughts that define what the incoming student expects from the institution of Higher Education (Howard, 2005). The mismatch between expectations and what the university offers can trigger several disappointments with academic life (Pachane, 2003). The commitment to the institution for the student is linked to the expectations about the institution in order to graduate, is related to the training or obtaining the diploma. In addition to these, internal and personal or external factors include students and the institution and can determine the permanence of these students in Higher Education (Bardagi & Hutz, 2009, Basso & Soares, 2013, Mercuri & Polydoro, 2003).

According to Nadelson and Semmelroth (2013), students’ initial expectations are generally good with respect to what they will find at university. A set of previous experiences in different fields of life, such as professional, social and family, influence the diverse choices and trajectory of the student in his academic life. Some may be related to success and recognition as a professional in the field. In this field, they are associated with a high pay or a personal and professional status that the career offers. Admission to a particular course is not necessarily the first choice of the student. In this way, he can use what he learns in this course in another course. This second option is usually the first choice of the student, who was unable to attend for some reason.

Even before joining the university, students show expectations related to various points about it. According to Aguiar and Conceição (2009), the assumptions of the students are strongly related to the scope of social relations, friendships, and the fact that there is the possibility and curiosity to learn something more pragmatic. According to Marques et al. (2011), when expectations are not linked to a future vision about the profession, are usually around the university itself and what it can offer. They can relate to the quality of the teaching staff and the subjects, which is reflected in the learning during the course. Infrastructure is also a recurring issue, what can be offered, of products and services, within the university and, for example, whether the university library is complete.

Often, students’ initial expectations are unrealistic and not fulfilled throughout their academic lives (Fernandes & Almeida, 2005). This fact can often bring difficulties related to performance, to experiences and in some cases can be determinant for the withdrawal of the course. The process of adjustment to life in Higher Education depends on several personal and professional factors, and may be related to the aptitude, that is, how the student was prepared to face that process, or linked to the assumptions, which refer to what and how much the student waiting for your course and your educational institution. According to Igue, Bariani and Milanesi (2008), there is a difference in relation to the previous preparation, the initial expectations of the students and what the university offers. When faced with these differences, a series of antagonistic feelings can occur, which is preponderant to the success or failure in the academic environment.

Throughout the academic-university life, many expectations are undone, some are maintained and others modified. The more they are realistic, the better the student will be able to face the difficulties and the more easily the goals can be achieved. Thus, students tend to have a better academic performance than others who have overly optimistic and less realistic ideas (Fernandes & Almeida, 2005). According to Almeida et al. (2003), this aspect was found to be higher among younger, female and displaced students of the family. The main conclusion of the study is that those students who have higher expectations are more susceptible to frustrations, which may be negative in terms of continuity in the course.

Some students, in order to achieve their goals, are those related to the status that the professional formation can take, the remuneration that can be received or simply reaching the end of the course, look for work within the university, having a deeper contact with a certain area of ​​the course , being able to feel, in practice, how is the professional performance in this area. With this, the student can see the profession in a more realistic way and, consequently, adapts better to this new reality (Almeida, Costa, Alves, Gonçalves, & Araújo, 2012). The student who has the closest suppositions to reality is less vulnerable to frustrations and disappointments in academic life (Almeida et al., 2003).

Admission to the university also generates presumptions about how the student will be received into it. Rituals such as trotting can be desired if understood as a moment of integration, but can also be feared and experienced as a situation of segregation and violence. There is a great apprehension of the new students regarding this event: some are afraid, others see it as an important rite of passage, and in other cases there is a desire to relate to other people and to integrate. This is part of expectations related to interaction and friendships (Aguiar & Conceição, 2009). Mauritti (2002), in a descriptive study of characterization, highlights the difficulties and changes that students pass along their academic trajectory, pointing out that students from disadvantaged social classes tend to seek solutions so that adaptation is facilitated and that, despite there are learning difficulties stemming from failures in basic education and greater financial difficulties, these students tend to look for occupations that can supply them, working in the university itself or in internships in some area of ​​interest.

According to Igue, Bariani and Milanesi (2008), integration into the university is paramount in the important decision to remain or abandon the objective of completing undergraduate courses. Almeida et al. (2003) point out that, in foreign studies, half of the students have difficulties in adapting to the university and that this can bring obstacles, besides generating more cases of psychopathology. Some of the reasons why ideas about the course are adjusted to the existing reality are related to the interpersonal difficulties of the students and the rigid methods that some courses use. According to Gonçalves and Lima (2007), it is important that the management methods are more democratic, flexibilizing some structures and stimulating the involvement of the people, which facilitates students’ access to materials and, consequently, to knowledge. With this, the conditions for learning are improved.

Some empirical studies have also associated academic expectations with student performance during the course. According to Fernandes and Almeida (2005), in a study that aimed to analyze the association of school performance with the initial assumptions of the students and their academic experiences evaluated in the middle of the school year and the levels of investment achieved at the end of the first year of university attendance, verified that students of engineering have higher academic performance and lower expectations related to institutional, social / interpersonal constructs. For students of Economic Sciences, in terms of behaviors, students with better income present lower values in terms of personal and social / interpersonal investment. The main conclusion of the study is that students with higher academic achievement, compared to those with poorer backgrounds, generally think more realistically about university life and demonstrate greater security in their choices and the path they intend to take in of their courses.

According to the literature on expectations and academic experiences and the importance of these constructs in the student’s stay in the academic environment, the objective of this study was to know the academic expectations of Brazilian university students of the first year of Higher Education.


Thirteen students from different areas of knowledge participated in order to contemplate the specificities of different courses. The ages ranged from 18 to 24 years (M = 19.54 and SD = 3.1). Five of the participants were from the Psychology course, two from History and the others, with only one participant respectively, were from Mathematics, Statistics, Biomedicine, Engineering, Nursing and Administration courses. Eight students were female and five male, ten of public universities and three of private universities in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The students were all unmarried and three belonged to social class A1, one to class A2, six to class B1 and three to class B2 (ABEP, 2012).

The focal group technique (Barbour, 2009) was used to collect data. The data were categorized and analyzed based on the methodology of Content Analysis of (Bardin, 2009). The content of the discussions was recorded and transcribed. In addition to the participants of the group, a moderator and two observers were present that aimed to interfere as little as possible in the developed dynamics. Some guiding questions were proposals for participants such as: What were your academic expectations upon entering the University? What did your family expect from your college course and your academic choices? What did you expect from your educational institution? Did you expect to meet new friends? The duration was approximately one hour and forty-five minutes. Participants filled out a record for sociodemographic data collection.

This study was approved on 02/25/2010 in the research ethics committee, under the number 129/2009. All the participants signed, soon after being informed of the objectives of the research, a Term of Free and Informed Consent guaranteeing the secrecy of their identity and the possibility of withdrawing their consent at any moment of the study.

Results and discussion

Eight categories were found in the focus group that are discussed here along with the corresponding speeches. The category “Fees to be received” is related to the financial return that the area professional can receive. The focus of this category is directed to financial success and, in this case, greater importance is given to the development of activities that lead to this goal. “… The whole class says this: ‘I do this course because I want to make money.'” Many students who pursue this goal can seek internships or jobs within the college so that there is a breakthrough in the area that one intends to develop in pursuit of financial achievement. “… The stage I wanted, I wanted for money”; “I intend to teach Psychology, I think of having a good salary …”. According to Bueno (1993), certain professions are less sought after or seen as a secondary option because the expectations related to financial return in the labor market are lower, a fact that also contributes to the level of avoidance in the courses of these careers. According to Oliveira and Piccinini (2012), the young person often seeks an internship or some work, within the course chosen, to gain the necessary experience and receive fees as a preparation for the fruits that the future career can generate .

The second category “Personal and professional achievement” is related to the choice of the course, that is, it is based on the personal and professional return that the career can give (status). Many students who look for achievements in the personal and professional fields seek to achieve some kind of status when they say, “When we create expectations, we kind of play, we do not know the details, but I see myself being a good professional, winning well, having the name on the door hanging. ” In this field, it can be emphasized that the objective of the students is to find and work in areas that already have a history of accomplishment, that is, that meet this objective. “To have a promising future as a teacher”, “Qualify for the job market”, “… have to be good as well, to be good professionals”. According to Bueno (1993), the status that can be received in certain careers, such as a doctor’s degree, psychologist, lawyer, among others, is a key factor in the decision to continue in the course. The insertion in the job market or in stages can be understood as a professional form that goes beyond the ideal related to the reception of fees. It can be seen as a way of exercising professional functions and being engaged in the experiences that a worker of that profession performs (Oliveira & Piccinini, 2012). According to Baptista et al. (2004), students’ knowledge about Higher Education does not seem to be a constant preoccupation of universities. According to the authors, it is necessary to know the characteristics of the course and the institution so that the institutional reality can be adapted to the reality of the student. With this, the university space becomes one of the main sources of stimulus so that the student follows his professional trajectory linked to the professional formation. The stimulus, in this case, is important because it reinforces the interest that the tertiary student has in exploring the various possibilities offered by his course.

The third category, “Course option”, focuses on the possibility of using the lessons of this course later, in another (priority course – 1st option). It is, in fact, the student’s first choice, that is, it is the course in which the student wanted to enter first, but was unable in any way to perform. These statements were mainly attributed to the students of the Nursing and Biomedicine course who wanted the medical course and who, because they did not get enough points to enter the desired course, attended what they thought was the closest possible in terms of content and practice. “… I, as I said, do nursing to spend my time, I do not want nursing,” “I want to do Medicine, but I do not see myself doing cramps and spending to get.I think I can do a college, I am new and have a guaranteed job and continue to follow my dream, because one day I will succeed “,” I also was not so sure about Biomedicine, I wanted Medicine too, but then I did the college entrance exam and I did not even Biomedicine nor for Medicine, and I happened to things nothing to see, like Chemistry, History .. “. It is evident in these cases how much the previous knowledge and the previous study determined their choices and possibilities of actuation (Vasconcelos, Almeida, & Monteiro, 2009), being able to lead to frustrations with the course.

In the fourth category, the students’ expectations regarding the “trot” are described. They are linked to the way this student will be received in his new course (fears, curiosities, rite of passage …). For many, the trot is seen as a rite of passage for Higher Education and the confrontation of this event can be given in different ways. “… I think that anyone who does not participate in the trot, stands out forever.” Some students stare with fear, because it is a reception full of excitement. “I saw on television on the trotting and I was afraid”; “I was more afraid of rejection, the person did not give me the money, I would be sad.” Many pranks have received labels of “violence” or “clutter,” and this may be of concern to some. On the other hand, some students see the trot as a phase of integration with the new colleagues, the university environment and the course as a whole and, in this sense, they want to make the most of this experience and celebrate this event intensely. “I wanted to go to college just for the trot, my dream was to go to college, to have a trot and to go to my school, to ask for money, everybody to see, to rub in everybody’s face”, “… I liked enough, so much so that our class is well knit. ”

The young man, before entering the university, carries with him a series of hopes and unique experiences, already has in itself his style of life and often does not work, living under the rules of the parents. Often, trotting represents not only the passage from high school to higher education, but it can be understood as a rite of initiation into adult life. “… I think that anyone who does not participate in the trot, stands out forever.” In this way, the trot represents a moment of integration and changes that will accompany the student throughout life (Almeida & Pinho, 2008).

The category “Quality of the teaching staff” is related to the quality of the teachers considering the didactics and the content. It is related to what the students expect from the course teachers, that is, if there are famous teachers, mainly with “good reputation”, who know how to transmit knowledge clearly, interact with the class, and other qualities. “Ih, I’m going to have class with so-and-so …”. I came to class with so-and-so, I thought ‘This was so-and-so?’, With another ‘That was so-and-so?’ Then when you were looking for Lattes, the one who did not even show up was the best class. “” I had another vision of a teacher, I did some projects out of college, I had teachers who were very good, “When I chose biomedical, I thought I was going to get anatomy, I had sociology, anthropology, philosophy, I had everything but the biomedical part, I wondered what I was doing. here, I am in Psychology, I am in human? “In addition to the good didactics, another characteristic that is well targeted by the students is the way the teacher deals with the class and if it works in an integrated way, therefore, it will have greater possibilities to relate the who teaches with the real world. “On my first day, there was a teacher who put a slide with what she did not want, what she took out, how much she took with cohesion, how coherent she was, how many points she gave in each question”; “Calculation, it was best to have the arrested before and enter there already knowing, because they do not teach “; “They explain, give the name and talk to go to Xerox”; “We see on film, teacher arrives in the room, writes and ‘Turns!’, I do not know, you have to know everything. When it arrives ‘Oh, that’s the theme’; “It was pretty cool, but then when I got to college, you just see the teacher playing stuff, playing stuff … you do not care if you’re learning or not.” According to Marin et al. (2013), the educational space is the field to deal with social contradictions and problematize reality, it is expected that the teacher has good didactics and works in an integrated way with the class, making connections between what appears in the real and external world and the which he teaches. Many of the students’ initial practices and ideas may be modified after contact with the reality data and their questioning Monografias Prontas.

In the category on “Disciplines” they focus on the quality and pertinence of the content that can be transmitted in the disciplines. The demand is related to the student’s interest in the discipline and how the teacher ministers it. “Of course, there are matters that have nothing to do with my area,” “Well, I’m in the second period now, so far I’m loving everything I’m seeing, I’m absolutely sure that’s what I want, Of the eight subjects that I have in one period, I have two that have to do “. It has been quite difficult to deal with curricula in which particular disciplines are seen as not very useful for training because they have content that is different from the specificity of the course. According to Souza, Zem-Mascarenhas and Rocha (2005), it is fundamental that students understand the importance of the disciplines of professional training, without which the students’ performance and participation are reduced, leading to frustration and little attribution of relevance to formation.

The category “Infrastructure” is related to the place where the course will be held, that is, the university campus. The student expects that there will be a large library, in which it is possible to meet the requirements of the course subjects in a timely manner, offering the necessary bibliographies for the good formation and several types of complementary references, as well as diverse materials for reading and research and a space for collective study. “Before entering xxx, I heard a lot of xxx, the rooms do not have air conditioning, hell heat, many things”; “… inside the institution, all the books have in the library, the teacher passes, we do not have to be running behind, we get there.You can stay a week with us, if you can not, you can stay for a while, that’s nice”; “So I do not know how your floor is, because I have a building just for us, we have five floors just for us, each floor has a laboratory, a library just for us, all rooms have air conditioning , there it’s all beautiful. ” According to Silva, Tavares, Silva e Silva (2012), the implementation of university libraries corresponds to the university mission and supports educational activities contributed to improve the sociocultural level of students and society as a whole.

The category related to “Family Acceptance” is related to what the family expects from that chosen profession. It concerns what parents or family expect regarding the course and future profession. Often, a great burden is placed on the college student to enter and stay on course, as there may be an expectation of the family in that regard. “Well, I decided to do Psychology at the end of my third year, because until then I always thought I would do it right, my parents did it right, so I always had the idea of ​​being a lawyer, doing a contest, etc. But then I I stopped to think that I did not want to do it right, to decorate the civil code, I do not want to have to judge a person, then I started to think about what I wanted to do, so I saw that I liked to observe people’s behavior “,” I’m not going to support you, if I go to do it, I’ll pay for a private one … ‘And from the beginning, my family did not like privately, my mother does not accept privately, so I grew up with that, right? ” Each family has its own beliefs, so certain professions can be seen as noble, or that will bring more financial returns. “Well, my mother said, ‘You’re not going, you’re not. You’re just saying this because you’re afraid you’re not going to law, so you want psychology.” Even if reality is contrary to expectations, the college continues to receive a heavy investment from the students and their families, regardless of the price to be paid for the course, since life projects are based on the bet made on the higher level career. When entering the field of work, the student is supposedly able to perform that function. The diploma is a proof of this competence, it is an indication of differentiation between those who have it or not, a fact that generates more opportunities. However, training does not necessarily mean guaranteed employment, so the student will only feel the real importance of the diploma when they enter or re-enter the job market. In addition, many times a family member was willing to continue in that profession and, for some reason, failed to achieve that goal. With this, the hope of this familiar is to have someone close as a way to accomplish their goal in an indirect way. “I had this problem, my father is an entrepreneur, my mother is a consultant.” Then they saw the plans of his past, so, wanting to project on me, my father had a dream of doing electrical engineering. then my father wanted it because he wanted me to do electrical engineering, I said I was not going to do it, I was not going to be happy. ” According to Santos (2005), the family should be taken into account as one of the possible motives in choosing the course and the continuity in it. In addition to the student’s personal ideas and knowledge about the chosen course, the family can exert a lot of pressure, especially when there is some desire on the part of the parents that the child is attending something that was strongly targeted by them during their lives.

According to Santos (2005), the patterns learned from parents are used during life. According to the experiences, the individual will discriminate what he considers more or less appropriate among these behaviors and will use them according to the situation. In this way, the choices can also be made during the academic life, which will guide the behaviors and practices of the student in the course. According to Farias, Nascimento, Graça and Baptista (2011), the students take pre-established beliefs to the initial training courses, which can generate conflict between the initial expectations and what is learned during the undergraduate course. It is important that the course offers stimuli that develop both positive conceptions of the theory presented in the course subjects and practices. In this way, the probability of dropping out of it decreases and increases the confidence of the student.

Analyzing the perspectives of the students in this study, it can be observed that most of them are related to previous beliefs about that course and / or profession. These beliefs are usually constructed throughout life, through thoughts about yourself, about family influence, about friends, or about people close to you. An idea is formed and fixed rigidly, and often the contact with reality data that the course provides can lead to a dissonance between what was expected and what actually occurs. This can lead to discouragement regarding continuation in the course. On the other hand, the initial assumption is not always totally undone. Over time, some of them may present a certain degree of similarity with what is presented to them in practice, and in a lesser number of times reality may exceed initial expectations. In this way, the student will have to adapt his conceptions according to the possibilities offered and make the best use of it for its permanence and its academic achievement.

Final considerations

The objective of this study was to know the expectations of students of Higher Education. Several categories were identified that showed long term desires that a professional of the chosen area may have. In some cases, these expectations have family roots, that is, it is an expectation related, primarily, to the desire of the family. This could be evidenced in the students’ speeches, which could be categorized as: “Fees to be received”, “Personal and professional achievement” and “Family acceptance”.

One can also perceive that the most immediate expectations have to do with what happens inside the university institution. Thus, the prospects are presented in a bias that focuses more on the physical space of the institution and the relationships that may occur during the course. In this way, the student expects something related to the infrastructure (laboratories with current and functioning devices, complete library, space for Internet access, block, among others), as well as waiting to be welcomed by colleagues and teachers. It has various ideas and beliefs about how it will be received (the trot). In addition, the student expects something related to the subjects and what will be learned and decides which way he wants to draw from it. These facts can be observed in the statements of the categories “trot”, “quality of the faculty”, “disciplines”, “infrastructure” and “second course option”.

As a limitation, it can be pointed out that not all participants were in the first year of the undergraduate course, which may have led the students to express not only academic expectations but also frustrations and behaviors realized and already experienced in Higher Education . This study allowed to know the desires and prospects of the students that are associated, together, to the performance and the academic permanence. In the future, intervention and promotion strategies can be proposed for a better development of university students in their academic trajectory.

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