A Change of Perspective: The Pre-Graduate Expectations versus Post-College Experiences of Theatre Arts Majors

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A Change of Perspective: The Pre-Graduate Expectations versus Post-College Experiences of Theatre Arts Majors

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Though there has been a great deal of research on the transition into college, there has been relatively little research on the transition out of college. This is particularly true in relation to theatre arts majors. Though recent graduates face many challenges post-college, there has been minimal exploration done on how graduates experience discrepancies between their pre-graduate expectations formed in college versus their actual post-college experiences. This qualitative study sought to explore the post-college transition experiences of 20 recent theatre arts baccalaureates (12 males and 8 females) and the discrepancy between their pre-graduate expectations and post-college experiences based on Schlossberg’s Transition Theory (1984) as a conceptual model. This model posits the type of transition (non-event), and four coping resources (situation, support, self, and strategies) for managing individual transition experiences. The results of the study identified four primary themes which impacted the post-college experiences of the study participants: (a) Undergraduate Preparedness, (b) Career, Finances, and Other Factors, (c) Discrepancy between Pre-Graduate Expectations versus Post-College Experiences, and (d) Artist Identity. In addition, the results of the study revealed that each of the 20 participants encountered a discrepancy between their pre-graduate expectations versus post-college experiences. The results of the study provide support for adding a new dimension to Schlossberg’s Transition Theory model as it relates to a psychological response that occurs within an individual when they encounter a discrepancy between what they thought would happen after college and what actually occurred post-college. A micro-transition is the psychological “change of perspective” (COP) by an individual regarding the macro-transition experience that results from the realization of a discrepancy between expectations and actual experiences. Implications for this study address undergraduate programming, faculty preparation, and alumni and theater organizations to better prepare theatre arts baccalaureates for the transition to post-college life.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2018. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Darwin Hendel. 1 computer file (PDF); 272 pages.

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Darg, Julie. (2018). A Change of Perspective: The Pre-Graduate Expectations versus Post-College Experiences of Theatre Arts Majors. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/199090.

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