1. a state or condition of confusion, movement, or agitation; disorder

2. (meteorol) local instability in the atmosphere, oceans, or rivers

3. turbulent flow in a liquid or gas

Middle School – UGH!

It’s the start of a new school year. Which means this week I was instantly forced to accept that my oldest is now a middle schooler. He is getting older and I can’t hold him back. I realized as I was driving him to his new school that this transition was going to be difficult and stressful… it has been years since I worried about him at school. Now, there is so much to consider: new experiences, rules, processes, teachers, students, challenges…Last week, hundreds of new middle schoolers poured out of their parents’ cars and anxiously walked through the front doors alone. My son went in without me.

Transition is HARD

But you know-this is how it goes. At the same time my son is crossing over into middle school, anxiety-filled transition experiences are happening at every level all across the country:

  • Toddlers are suddenly entering elementary school.

  • First graders have suddenly grown up into middle schoolers.

  • Awkward middle schoolers are now cautiously walking the halls of high schools.

  • And most dramatically, parents are packing up their “they-were-three-yesterday” sons and daughters and dropping them off at college for the first time.

All of these come with the same blend of excitement, anxiety, sadness, and hope.


After eight years of working at a university, and now focused at Pharos to improve student success, I see transition differently all of a sudden.

Yes, it’s an adventure. Yes, it’s a sign of growing into your own. Also, it can be really hard.

I know.
It’s all old-hat for professionals like us.

This is the season when the rhythm of the academic year begins. We know that August brings freshmen orientation, move-in day, meeting roommates, new class schedules, and the return of upperclassmen. We begin to teach our students how to be scholars, and students. This is where the
work of Student Development starts.

As a parent, I am asking you: please look beyond the work, and remember all the firsts these students are experiencing and all the feelings each brings:

  • Living away from home

  • Learning a new city

  • Going to grocery store

  • Finding the grocery store!

  • Deciding what to eat for all three meals

  • Sharing a room

  • Opening a bank account

  • Managing money

  • Writing a check

  • Doing laundry

  • Eating a meal alone

  • Cleaning their room

  • Settling conflict alone

  • Deciding when or how long to study

  • Learning how long they can procrastinate 

  • Deciding when to go to sleep

  • Waking up on his or her own

  • Deciding when (or if) to get out of bed

  • Oh…and all that new college ‘stuff



Life stages. Transitions. Turbulence.

It is newJust when you get comfortable and feel like you’ve got it all together, life calls you into a new challenge. For students entering college for the first time, it’s truly a turbulent time. On your campus, in your classrooms and living in your residence halls, are hundreds of students experiencing the same things for the first time. Some will navigate it really successfully. Others, even our very best and brightest, will struggle.

If we want to transform our campus and improve student success, we have to be present with those who have been dropped off.

It’s not just another day for them…it’s new.


About Matt Boisvert

Matt Boisvert is a co-founder of Pharos Resources and serves as President. Prior to launching Pharos Resources, Matt served as the Assistant Dean of Marketing Operations and Marketing Instructor for Abilene Christian University’s College of Business Administration. Before joining the ACU faculty, Matt was the Executive Director of ACU’s Office of Career and Academic Development, overseeing the “Support Our Students” program and career and academic counseling services. At ACU, he expanded the College of Business advising center into a full-service Career Development Center, contributing to ACU COBA’s recent recognition as the highest placement rate among Master’s programs in the nation. Matt received an MBA specializing in Services Marketing and Management from Arizona State University and a BBA from ACU. Matt has been recognized as the “Teacher of the Year” for ACU’s Management Sciences department, SpringBoard entrepreneur, and as an AbileneBiz “Top 20 Under 40” honoree.

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