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Stories of transition between graduate preparation programs and community-college student affairs




White, Marisa Vernon, author
Anderson, Sharon K., advisor
Tungate, Susan, committee member
Kretovics, Mark, committee member
Kuk, Linda, committee member

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The purpose of this study is to provide a basis for understanding how new student-affairs professionals transition from their graduate preparation programs and into community-college work within zero to 3 years after having completed their master's degree. The study was guided by three specific research questions: (a) How do individuals experience the transition from graduate-school preparation programs and community-college student-affairs work as two separate, but related, cultures?; (b) What external factors facilitate new student-affairs professionals transitions' from graduate school into community-college work?; and (c) What internal or personal factors support this transition between graduate school and community-college work? This study was constructed using two primary frameworks: community colleges as a subculture (Sebald, 1975) within the American higher education system, and Schlossberg's (1981, 2008) transition theory and 4S system, which identify factors across internal and external domains that support individuals as they experience change in their lives. Through a qualitative, narrative-inquiry approach that highlighted the lived experiences and personal stories of five individuals, key findings describe specific areas of perceived misalignment (broad roles, localization, organizational structure and dynamics) and an emergent colloquialism ("especially at community colleges") that described differences between the two separate, but related, cultures. Participants' stories also revealed the influence of graduate school, sense of community, "doing work that matters," and situational factors as supportive of their transitions. Implications for practice include strengthening both professional pipelines to community-college student-affairs work and graduate program design.


2021 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.

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graduate program
narrative inquiry
higher education
community college
student affairs


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