Pre-Graduation Shock + Transition Theory = Figuring It All Out!

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If you work in the field of Higher Ed or have ever transferred from one college to another, you are probably familiar with the term ‘transfer shock’.  Transfer shock refers to the uncertainty, anxiety, and challenges experienced while transitioning from an environment you’ve grown comfortable and successful in to an environment you must suddenly adjust to all over again.  I think I’m currently experiencing something I can only refer to as Pre-Grad Shock!

I have spent the past two and a half years at Saint Rose, the prior two years at SUNY IT, and two years before that at HCCC, not to mention twelve years before that in K-12.  I hardly know of life outside of school.  Beyond that, I have always taken academics seriously and set aside most other aspects of my life for my academics and work to take priority.

Without school, I don’t know who I am, who I will be.  Education provides a pretty clear road map over a set period of time, and it’s easy to get into that routine– take these classes now so I can take these other classes next semester, register and repeat– no need to worry about what comes after that, not just yet.  I was so engrossed all semester in completing my course and internship requirements that I didn’t put forth too much thought and energy into what would come after (mostly to preserve sanity).  Driving home from internship today, though, I was blindsided by a sudden fear of… what on Earth comes next?

In the C.S.S.A. program, we learn about student transitions.  Specifically we often talk about Schlossberg’s Theory of Transition.  Through the lens of this theory, there are multiple types of transitions (anticipated, unanticipated, non-events) in which four factors come into play: situation (what’s happening?), self (what personal characteristics make up you as an individual?), support (who’s there for you?) and strategies (how do you  cope?).


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But just because you know and understand student transition theory doesn’t mean it’s any easier to navigate your own – unless you put it to use.  It gives you a tool to assess yourself and take control of your transition.  When considering yourself through the lens of transition theory:


  • Remember what your strengths are, but be cognizant of your weaknesses.
  • Step back and think about the situation, and what aspects you have control over.
  • Remember who is there for you, and ask them for help at this difficult time. Many of your friends are likely going through similar challenges, so endure it together.
  • If your current coping strategies aren’t working, seek out new ones to try.



One thing I know is that, like the transition from high school to college, only I can be truly responsible for what is to come and how I adapt to a new lifestyle.  It will take restructuring my time; reflecting on skills I’ve used in the past and trying new ones as I enter the full-time workforce; and facing my fears.  I can take comfort in knowing that most likely, in six months from now, I’ll look back as I often do and realize…

I had nothing to worry about.  :)

Professor Shout-Out! Meet Dr. Karen McGrath

Dr. Karen McGrath, Communications Department, Professor and Chair (has been with Saint Rose since 1997)


  • Where did you attend school? CUNY @ York College in Speech, then on to SUNY Albany for a Masters in Communication, and finally at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale for a Ph.D. in Speech

    Saint Rose Communications Department Chair and Professor, Dr. Karen McGrath

    Communication with a concentration in Philosophy of Communication.

  • Where have you been employed? Besides odd jobs here or there, SIU-Carbondale (1 year) then the remaining time here at Saint Rose.
  • Did you always want to teach? No.  I thought I would be a journalist or writer of short stories.  Then, computers were the “new thing” in the 80s.  But, teaching became a passion when I encountered my mentor, Dr. James Como at York College.
  • What classes do you teach at Saint Rose? Communication and Culture, Gender and Communication, Media Literacy, Conflict Management, and other courses as appropriate.
  • Highlight of academic career, thus far: Defending my dissertation with its analytic focus on Seinfeld on April Fool’s Day in 1996.

Fun Facts: 

  • What’s your favorite color? All shades of blue
  • Favorite place to eat in the Capital Region? Too many to list as I am always trying new places with family and friends.
  • If you could have one superpower, what would you choose? Invisibility.  It would be nice to be heard but not seen on many occasions!  And, a great way to get away from the abundance of meetings we have on campus :)


Travel is good for the soul.  Reading is good for the mind.  Massages are good for the body.  Loving is good for the heart.  Thinking about each of these rather than doing each of these is detrimental to one’s life.—McGrath, 2012

Dr. McGrath helps contribute to The College of Saint Rose–Communication Majors or Alum (department Facebook group) and can also be found at Please comment here if you have any questions for Dr. McGrath.