Please consider downloading the latest version of Internet Explorer
to experience this site as intended.
Tools Search Main Menu
UHS Site Menu

University Counseling Center

Responding to Students with Transition Issues

Facts about transitions:

  • Transitions are times of change that usually involve both loss and opportunity.
  • Entering college is one of life’s most demanding transitions; arguable the most significant transition since the start of kindergarten.
  • College students face many challenging transitions including graduating and entering the work force.
  • The changes inherent in a transition produce stress and challenge a student’s coping resources.
  • Students commonly experience a decline in functioning (academic, social, emotional) during transitions.
  • Transition stress can be compounded by counter-productive coping mechanisms such as avoidance of stress-producing situations and people, excessive partying, and alcohol abuse.
  • Transitions can pose greater problems to students who have existing psychological problems or difficult life circumstances.
  • Students going through a transition may benefit from counseling to enhance their coping efforts or to prevent the onset of serious problems.

Signs that a student is having transition problems include:

  • Anxiety symptoms such as nervousness, irritability, tearfulness, and sleep problems.
  • Depressed mood.
  • Difficulty managing responsibilities or relationships.

What You Can do:

  • Covey to the student that transition stress is normal and often brings a temporary decline in performance.
  • Encourage that student to use positive coping strategies to manage transition stress including: regular exercise, use of social support, a reasonable eating and sleeping regimen, and scheduling pleasurable activities.
  • Refer the student to UCC if performance problems persist beyond a reasonable amount of time, or if the symptoms are acute, or if the student feels he/she could benefit by talking with someone about it.

Avoid:

  • Assuming that the student understand the impact of transitions and is aware of the source of stress
  • Minimizing or trivializing the student’s feelings and reactions.
  • Discounting or overlooking factors that put the student at risk of more serious problems.

Guide Table of Content

Addendum