Initial Publication Date: July 9, 2018

From Challenges to Principles for Supporting Transitions

Think: Imagine a very successful transition. What are the things that made it work well? What prevented from going awry?

Share: We will share our ideas for what supports a successful transition. Members of the group will be encouraged to link ideas to the research base.

Synthesize: Based on collective knowledge we will create a list of principles for supporting transitions.


  • experience that allows time to reflect and prepare (for both the student and for the receiving cohort/program)
  • understanding what is happening in transition
  • comfort asking questions
  • knowing what to expect (bringing onto campus, into research group, internship, REU,
    • advance visit (informational interviews, campus visit, accepted students visit, selection interview)
      • space
      • people
      • norms
      • expectations
      • roles responsibilities
    • experience at the next level (internship, REU, bridge program, summer research project)
    • preparation at the current level (experiences in classes that prepares them)
  • near-peer mentor
  • mentor who is mindful and aware and can guide while not knowing to expect
  • mentor who helps me understand what I bring to the situation
  • given responsibility that gave successful experience in new situtation
  • treated as if belonged (given responsibility,)
  • quick transition to feeling that contributing
  • understanding expectations for academics and for behavior (show up on time, keep notebook, use title) -- norming experience
  • know people
  • know where to find resources (campus tutoring)
  • personal support on both sides of transition (personal capital)
  • preparation before you move to the next level
  • problem solving experience
  • needed knowledge and skills
    • quantitative reasoning
    • project experience
  • independent - learning and in life
  • confidence seeking help and knowing when to get help
  • social capital - receiving end is expecting good performance
  • stability in other parts of your life - or support for all the different things that are changing
  • organization culture of receiving institution that is welcoming, values studens as they are, aware of the full nature of the transtion and prepared to support its challenges
  • organization is invested in making the transistion successful
  • acknowledging that their is discomfort and trying to support through this discomfort


  • Provide information and experiences to know what to expect
    • make sure that this information is getting to full spectrum of students
  • Making resources clear and accessible
    • build strong connections to supporting offices
    • resources that are specific to where they want to go, and accurate
  • Developing a supporting culture that is reaching out to help
  • Prepare your students for their next transition
    • experiences
    • skills
    • enriching personal networks so don't arrive alone (near peer strategies, alumni networks, cohorts)
    • norms
  • Provide robust (well trained, well designed) mentoring
    • faculty and peer
  • Build robust connections between institutions when possible
  • Research and understand the roadblocks and address them (e.g. timing, financial resources, accessibility)
  • Evaluate your transition programs to understand successes
  • Provide opportunities for and recognize early success and capitalize on these to build confidence
  • Structure the development of a sense of belonging and cultural capital