Recognizing Transitions

Considering your transition from service to what comes next

Making a transition can be difficult. Some AmeriCorps or VISTA members, for example, may view the end of their service as a loss; others may see the transition as an opportunity to move on.

By preparing for your upcoming transition, you can make the change easier. Nancy Schlossberg developed a model that describes transitions as inevitable and often unpredictable. You can use her model to help you identify and recognize transitions.

Three assumptions underlie her model:

  1. A transition can result from a lack of something happening (a nonevent, such as not being accepted into the college of your choice), as well as from something happening (an event like getting a new job).
  2. Every transition has both positive and negative aspects.
  3. Most transitions move from a turbulent crisis point to one in which the event or nonevent is integrated into the individual's life.

Her transition model examines three variables–situation, environment and the individual. Read over her key questions and consider if you have the answers. If you don't yet, think about how you can find the answers (hint: this tutorial is designed to help!). Return to this page throughout your service year.


  • Is the timing of your transition from AmeriCorps or VISTA good?
  • How much control do you have over the transition?
  • What other stress do you have in your life?
  • Are you looking forward to the transition?
  • Think about how you coped with past transitions. What worked then that might also work in this situation?


  • What support do you have?
  • How disruptive will your transition be to your family, coworkers, friends, and community?
  • What do you think your own support options are?
  • Can you think of ways to increase these options?


  • How will your personality affect your transition?
  • Do you have a positive outlook on the transition from AmeriCorps or VISTA to your next step?
  • Do you fully understand the financial requirements of the transition, and can you meet them?
  • Do you cope well when under a lot of stress?
  • During and after the transition, will you be able to take care of whatever is important to you?

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