The purpose of this article is to explore how one group of students reflect upon their transition into the higher education environment. This qualitative research project followed one group of female undergraduate students as they moved through the first year of study. All of the participants were the first in their family to consider further education and each participated in four semi-structured interviews over one year. Drawing on the conceptual lens of ‘turning points’, the intent is to provide a ‘close-up’ analysis of the complex process of identity formation within the university landscape. By revisiting the students at various points over time, richly descriptive detail about what this undertaking means for those involved can be presented and the significance of these turning points explored in terms of their wider political implications.