Updated: November 5th, 2020

Transition is Growth

By Tita Gray, Ed.D, MBA, Associate Vice President of Student and Alumni Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer

There are times when I forget that transition is inevitable, and things happen that are unplanned even when we planned with much detail. It made me think of Nancy Schlossberg’s Transition Theory. Schlossberg defines transition as, “any event or non-event that results in changed relationships, assumptions, routines, and roles” (Evans, 2010). Within this definition, she has a framework for three types of transitions: anticipated, unanticipated, and non-events. Anticipated transition is a predictable occurrence; unanticipated transition is the opposite, not scheduled or predicted; and non-event is a transition that was expected to occur and did not.

Can you relate to any of these types of transition? Of course you can because they are a part of life. What becomes complicated is how we deal with them. Schlossberg goes on to tell us that there are four key tenants of the theory: Situation, Self, Support, and Strategy.

1. “Situation” is everything encompassing the transition, the occurrence.

2. “Self” focuses on how you plan to cope with the transition.

3. “Support” looks at all aspects of support needed to handle the transition.

4. “Strategy” your assessment of what can be modified or changed to support the situation.

I remember when I chose to move to California, I didn’t anticipate how much I was going to miss my family and I was miserable for close to a year. In pursuing my doctorate degree I didn’t anticipate the rigor and many days I told myself that I couldn’t go further. I share this with you because transitions are a part of life yet can easily be taken for granted. I’m providing this theory to implore you to have contingency plans in place for big and small transitions; planning for school, moving to a new town, having a family, buying a car, graduating, etc.

Through experience, I have found that being self-aware is key to planning and managing anticipated, unanticipated, and non-event transitions. Many people have observed that it is not the change that is so difficult but the transition. If you leave your heart open to milestones and challenges and realize that they are not static, transition can provide growth.