Where Does Theory Fit?

by Ryan Morgado


The transition from graduate school to full time professional has been an awkward one, expectedly. I knew that there was going to be a large learning curve for many different reasons: learning a new institution, breaking ground as a professional for the first time, learning to work with different students, etc. I wasn’t going to know everything that I knew it would be a few months before I got a full hang on how to perform my role to the best of my ability. Our professors gave our cohort realistic ideals when it came to our first professional jobs, and they focused on one area in particular: the use of theory.

Theory was probably my favorite part of my graduate education. Learning how the minds of our students work and how we can best shape them in the roles we assume. After every class I learned something new: expansion on an old theory or a brand new one all-together. Since I had a graduate assistantship, I was able to test the waters as I learned these theories to see how it manifested outside the classroom. I could see evidence in my group meetings and my one on one’s and looked forward to every interaction I had and how I can further my understanding and implementation of development theory.

Then I transitioned into my first full time role.

I’ve talked about my full time role in previous entry’s, but I can imagine I’m not the only one who felt like they were first learning how to walk again. Learning how to navigate a new position is a challenging one and my use of theory fell by the wayside. Working with new students also complicated the matter. Student development theory is able to be generalized across most students, but I didn’t realize how accustomed I came to the students I was working with in graduate school. They were familiar, so listening intently to what they were saying and attempting to analyze it was simple.

Now that I’m 6+ months into my position I become more and more comfortable every day. Summer is finally here so I have time to re-look into the theories that I’ve become so fond of and how I want to implement them in the coming school year. For those of you full time professionals, what did you do to keep using theory during your first years? And for those of you transition out of grad school, what do you want to do to maintain the theory you’ve come to learn?

Student Affairs - the First Years

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