Ready or Not…
A new St. Lawrence program
helps make the transition from campus to "the
real world" less daunting.
By Lisa M. Cania M'82
So you've learned literary theory and written an honors thesis
on Walt Whitman's national and international dimensions? You've
conducted independent research in neuroscience, presented your findings
at a national conference and been accepted to medical school? Or you've
made the most of career services and leadership education staff expertise
and have landed a job beginning May 17, the day after graduation. You're
set for life after St. Lawrence.
Or are you?
Making the transition to graduate school or that first career is more
complicated than simply completing degree requirements and securing
a job. Those are central, of course, but life after graduation is so
much richer if students are better prepared, say the professional staff
members in the division of student life. In 2002, they created the
Senior Transition Series, and the program is building momentum with
"We created the series to help students prepare for their lives
beyond St. Lawrence, of course, but as important, it prepares students
for closure from the St. Lawrence experience," says coordinator
Kate Caldwell, assistant director of career services and leadership
education. "We believe that when students spend as much time
as they do in the close community that is St. Lawrence, they'll
get so much more from their time if they reflect on its value even
as they plan for what's next in life."
The Senior Transition Series begins with a seminar entitled "Enjoying
the Moment: Awareness of the ‘Lasts' in the Last Semester." The "lasts" could
be big ones—the last hockey game, the last chapel chimes, the
last Moving-Up Day. Or they could be small, but special—the last
all-night study session, the last trip for a pizza roll, the last fast
walk across the Quad on a clear, cold night.
"We hope students will pause to consider what they've
learned through every experience, through every relationship," says
The succeeding sessions are a bit more practical:
*"Deciphering Your First Day on the Job" helps students
prepare for assembling professional attire, getting a handle on organizational
culture, making decisions about health and retirement benefits and
completing tax forms.
*"Personal Budgeting" is just what is appears to be -
how to create a budget with expenses you've never had to worry
about: utilities, groceries, insurance. Special attention goes to that
new credit card and how to use credit in smart ways.
*"Managing Personal and Long-Distance Relationships" addresses
all types of relationships, romantic and platonic. When you're
a busy young professional or in grad school, how do you find the time
for friends who may live hours away?
*" A Place of One's Own" enlightens students about
renting their first apartment or house and learning to love a new city.
Two consultants who specialize in helping college graduates relocate
talk about the ways to navigate actual as well as social landscapes
in such places as Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego
*"In All the Old Familiar (and New and Unseen) Places: A Campus
Tour for Seniors" takes students all over campus to the locations
they've passed by every day for four years but may not have noticed
In Spring 2003, roommates Nilya "Nellie" Carrato'03
and Alyssa Rivers '03 attended every session in the Senior Transition
Series (and won an Adirondack chair for their dedication). Carrato, now
a graduate student in Washington , D.C. , says, "The series was
a great way to reflect on my years at St. Lawrence, and it helped me
to see that the experiences and relationships developed in school would
be helpful in my transition to the real world. It was also great to be
able to have people who were living in the real world honestly interested
in helping students make the transition. The sections on apartment-hunting
and budgeting were especially helpful to someone like me with no previous
experience in those areas."
In: Several presenters from the Senior Transition Series offered
samples of the topics and advice shared with participants.
As you transit to a new phase in life, maintaining a sense of control and
balance can become difficult as you learn to deal with new challenges. It is
especially important to be mindful of the basic factors that provide balance
in our lives. Remember that we are all a complex mix of academic, physical,
mental, spiritual and emotional dimensions. Each of these dimensions needs
to be acknowledged and nurtured in order to maintain an adequate equilibrium
for effective functioning.
So what are the basic factors that need to be in harmony and are the building
blocks for holistic balance? Here is a quick acronym to help you remember how
to keep balance in your life.
D Diet and nutrition
S Sleep and adequate rest
S Socialize with friends, have fun
Now that you have read this simple list you are probably saying "I knew
that!" But it's easy to overlook these fundamental building blocks.
We often ignore the signs that we are out of balance, until our body malfunctions
and our attention is drawn to the fact that something is out of sync. Work
to be mindful of your need for balance and this life transition will be easier
and more enjoyable.
William Burns, Director of Counseling
Never walk into anything uninformed if you can help it. This applies
to just about everything in life, from job interviews and meetings with your
boss to your major career and relationship choices. Always take the time
to gather all the information you can and be thoughtful about how you'll respond
Carol Garbarino, Director of Career Services and Leadership Education
Live within your means! Each year, take time to set realistic short-term and
long-term financial goals and evaluate your progress periodically. It
is a profound sense of satisfaction when you meet each goal.
Mary Cosmo, Assistant Controller
As best you can, try not to define your success in terms of money, titles
or the expectations of others. Identify for yourself the things, people
or causes that give your life meaning and align your vocation and avocation
with them. Then, in poverty or wealth, as a burger flipper or a CEO you
will be happy.
David Norenberg, Digital Asset and On-Line Data Manager (advisor to several
Spend one hour on one night during your last semester to reflect on who you
need to say good-bye to at SLU. It means so much for people to hear that
they have made a difference in our life.
Kathleen Buckley, University Chaplain
Having long since survived the transition out of college, Lisa Cania is now
watching her own children approach the transition into it.