From an adult viewpoint: the transition from non-student to student status

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Virginia Tech


This study focused on the transition process of adult undergraduate students as they progressed from non-student to student status at a large state supported university. This study focused on the factors of transition as described in the Transition Framework developed by Nancy K. Schlossberg. Schlossberg identified three major components of the transition process: the transition, the individual, and the environment. The purpose of this study was to determine the adequacy of the Schlossberg Transition Framework in explaining the actual transition of adults from non-student to student status.

A qualitative methodology was utilized for data collection and analysis. Data collected through in-depth personal interviews led to findings which verified those constructs of Schlossberg's model that adult students identified as important to the transition process.

The Schlossberg Transition Framework proved to be an adequate tool for explaining this particular transition, although some components of the Framework were of more importance than others. Study findings indicated that the variables characterizing the individual were the most important part of the transition process for the adults in this study. Commitment and values, ego development, outlook, and coping resources all surfaced as critical components to a successful transition. The variables characterizing the transition important to these adults were: stress, role change, trigger event, and previous experience with a transition of a similar nature. All the variables characterizing the environment; support from family, friends, and institutions were found to be important to this transition. The following formula was designed to describe characteristics of the adults in this study who had successfully become undergraduate college students: Determination + Courage + Vision = A Successful Transition.