As I write this I’m finishing my first month of retirement from the SIGCSE Board which after 12 years of service is a significant transition for me. It’s not the only transition going on right now, since my son moves out of our house into his own apartment on August 1st and starts college at DePaul in September. I don’t think I’ve had this much change in my life since my son was born more than 18 years ago, and each of these things simultaneously brings a moment of sadness and a reason to celebrate.
What I don’t think I had completely appreciated until the past few months is how much turmoil the transition from high school to college brings for a person. Since I spent my last year of high school as an exchange student in Germany, I experienced my significant transition at an earlier age and the process of going to college felt calm and smooth as a result. But that transition is anything but calm and smooth. As I watch my son grapple with taking on adult responsibilities and cope with the stress and anxiety that new situations like this naturally create, I have renewed sympathy for first-year students at DePaul. The vast majority of students I teach are in their first year at DePaul, and many of them, like my son, are fresh out of high school. I suspect that my new perspective may help me to understand some of the quirks I see in new students once I go back into the classroom after this summer of transition.