HOME AWAY FROM HOME: IDENTITY AND RELATIONSHIP FORMATION FOR OUT-OF-STATE-STUDENTS
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPublic higher education institutions have been slowly increasing their reliance on out-of-state students in order to increase revenue and balance their budgets to fit the needs of students in the 21st century. However, there is a severe lack of research into out-of-state students’ experiences and how this particular population of students transition to college, establish relationships, and develop their identity in an environment that is separate than their permanent residence. Therefore, this study employs the communication theory of identity developed by Michael Hecht to examine how out-of-state students transition to college and how their identities and communication are affected in that transition. I conducted 4 focus group interviews with 18 out-of-state students at the University of Arizona (12 women and 6 men) about their experiences transitioning to a university environment, how they established meaningful relationships while in college, and their sense of self. Students revealed the importance of establishing relationships quickly and how they found meaningful interpersonal relationships in larger peer groups. In addition, they mentioned higher levels of autonomy and independence as they transitioned to college, and the setbacks they experienced as a result of not finding meaningful relationships quickly. Lastly, they described personal-relational identity gaps that emerged as a result of navigating between their relationships that they established prior to entering college and the ones that are newly established. These findings can help inform higher education professionals and institutions that rely heavily on out-of-state students how they can continue to support this population of students.