Podcast # 6: Why Adults Must Prepare Students to Transition Well

In the last episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast, we discussed when to end a relationship (based on this blog post). In today’s episode, we are looking at why adults must prepare students to transition well.


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Episode Summary

Students are having trouble making transitions today:

  • Middle School to High School
  • High School to College
  • College to Career

Just like a relay race, the baton must be passed well. Some students drop the baton in middle school, some in high school and some in college.

Challenges on the Front End – High School to College

Many freshman students are not ready for college

More than half of 2012 grads who took the college entrance exams did not score well enough to enter college.

Challenges on the Backend – College to Career

Students graduate with an average debt of $26,000

2 years ago, 60% of college seniors planned to move back home after graduation. Last year, that number was 80%.

Condoleeza Rice and Joel Kline published a report stating that 75% of today’s youth are not fit for military service due to obesity, criminal records or failing to graduate. The US Army recently reshaped their standards to make it easier for young people to qualify.

Corporations reported that 50% of their open jobs went unclaimed due to unprepared recent graduates.

The Five Greatest Predictors of Student Success

1. Getting connected to the right people.

According to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) close, accountable relationships are vital to student success.

Transition causes stress but connecting with the right people eases this stress.

Research shows that when students get connected to solid people (peers or mentors) they tend to stick with commitments and follow through.

The Federal Mentoring Council shares one study of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program found students with mentors earning higher grades than similar students without mentors.

A 2007 study discovered that kids in a mentoring relationship at school did better work in class, finished more assigned work, and improved overall in academics—especially in science and in written and oral communication.

After graduation, “employees who have had mentors typically earn thousands more than employees who haven’t.”

2. Possessing adaptability and resilience.

In 2006, 60% of students moved back home after finishing college. In 2010, that number had risen to 80%. It’s more than a bad economy. They’re not career-ready.

The MacArthur Foundation funded a research project that said for many kids, the transition into adulthood doesn’t occur until 34 years of age.

Studies show that a person can keep their foot in a bucket of ice water twice as long if someone is there to encourage them.

3. Developing high emotional intelligence.

Success in school is 75% IQ and 25% EQ.

In the real world, it’s just the opposite

Four Components of EQ

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

A New York Times editorial reviewed key research findings, saying, “…social and emotional learning programs significantly improve students’ academic performance.”

Additional studies also show emotional intelligence is strongly linked to staying in school, avoiding risk behaviors, and improving health, happiness, and life success.

4. Targeting a clear outcome.

Work vs. Sports

  • Sports are popular because it’s clear who is winning and who is losing.
  • We are energized when we know the score.

A university study conducted on “peace of mind” sought to find the greatest factors that contributed to people’s stability. The top five they discovered were:

  1. Refusing to live in the past.
  2. The absence of suspicion, resentment and regret.
  3. Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change.
  4. Refusing to indulge in self-pity.
  5. Forcing yourself to get involved with a major goal in your current world.

5.Making good decisions.

The students who succeed make right decisions in and out of class.

These are decisions that determine their moral compass, their discretionary time, their study habits, their predisposition to cheat, their outside work and how they deal with setbacks and stress.

Examples of Companies and Individuals that Have Persevered

Angry Birds spent eight years and almost all their money on more than fifty games before their big success occurred.

Pinterest was among the fastest-growing websites ever, but it had struggled for some time. In CEO Ben Silbermann’s words, it had “catastrophically small numbers” for a year. He said “if he had listened to popular startup advice he probably would have quit.”

James Dyson went through 5,126 prototypes before arriving at his “revolutionary vacuum cleaner.”

Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times at inventing the light bulb.

The popular company Groupon nearly went out of business—but went on to a “meteoric rise.”

WD-40 literally means “Water Displacement—40th Attempt.”

Habitudes for the Journey

  1. Sturdy Guardrails
    People in our life that keep us on the right path
  2. Destination vs. the Trip
    We must avoid being so focused on the
  3. Tollbooths or Roadblocks
    Difficult circumstances should be a place to pay the price and pass through. Unfortunately, they can turn into roadblocks instead of tollbooths.
  4. Travel Agent or Tour Guide
    Some people will guide you, others will take the journey with you.


1. Habitudes for the Journey releases on January 15. Preorder your copy today at

2. National Leadership Forum – Sign up today at This year’s theme is Marching Off the Map: Charting the Course for the Next Decade of Student Development.

3. Check out Growing Leaders. If you’re new to the podcast or blog, visit our website to learn more about the resources Growing Leaders offers to equip those who lead the next generation.

What topic would you like for us to address on the next episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast? Leave a comment below.

Podcast # 6: Why Adults Must Prepare Students to Transition Well