New School, New Job, New Life

Supporting the Transition of Student Affairs Graduate Assistants


  • Karen J. Haley
  • Brandi Hephner LaBanc
  • Peggy Koutas



Development, classroom, preparation, graduate, students, transition, assistantship, transition theory, Schlossberg, experience, internal, external, situation, self, support, strategies, professional role, sense of belonging, relationships


Student affairs professionals have a responsibility for the professional development of graduate assistants (Gas) in the department as these positions are marketed as first professional positions. While prior literature has addressed the transition of graduate students into graduate school, there is little about the transition process for students with graduate assistantships in student affairs. Student transitions are important as they may set the tone for their first professional experience and ongoing professional development. Four key themes emerged from the voices of the graduate student participants in this study as they described their transition process into a GA position. First, they viewed the GA experience as a professional opportunity. Second, their sense of belonging was dependent on their perceived contribution to the department or division. Third, relationships mattered as they navigated the transition into their GA role. And finally, self agency (individual action) was apparent as they became engaged in their own success.


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How to Cite

Haley, K. J., LaBanc, B. H., & Koutas, P. (2011). New School, New Job, New Life: Supporting the Transition of Student Affairs Graduate Assistants. Journal of College Orientation, Transition, and Retention, 18(2).



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