Student Role

A role defines individual behaviors in a particular function, but it is defined in terms of a relationship to other functions. With each role comes a different expectation, which sometimes results in conflict or leads to stress. Role development is growth that occurs as a person learns the expectations and behaviors for each role.

You are beginning the journey to transition into a new role. To do that, you must first embrace the role of student, in which you find yourself now.

Types of Roles:

Acquired: step-parent Ascribed: parent
Personal: student Genetic: sibling
Societal: member of a church group Social: PTA president
Professional: nurse, chiropractor, etc.    


Change can be:

  • Planned: a personal decision, such as returning to school
  • Forced: organizational requirement, such as phasing out various health care positions 

Change is a never-ending process, and includes three phases:

  1. Endings: leaving behind the old, the familiar
  2. Mid-ground: neutral, calmness
  3. Beginnings: embracing your new role, i.e. that of a student, an RN, etc. What do you need to leave behind? Let go of? What can you look forward to?

As a result of change, you feel unsettled. Issues or feelings you may experience as you go through this transition include:

  • Commitment—with all this work, will it really pay off?
  • Balance—juggling multiple roles and responsibilities (work, family, study)
  • Ambivalence—do I really want this?
  • Loss—letting go/grieving for previous roles; letting others do things (e.g. laundry, grocery shopping).
  • Finances—costs associated with degree; should I spend all this money? How can I budget this?
  • Support—fear of asking for help; possibly not having any support or others to help.

Strategies for a Successful Role Transition:

  • Attitude: maintain positive thoughts about succeeding and earning your degree.
  • Imagery: envision yourself passing your courses and examinations, completing your degree and walking across the stage at Commencement. Envision yourself in a new job.
  • Immersion: immerse yourself — join the MyExcelsior Community (login required), chat with other students, use the book swap, chat with your advisor and/or faculty member. Join professional organizations.
  • Support: seek out support from other students, family members, friends, coworkers.
  • Journal: your feelings, issues your experience.

Take a minute and list your roles. You’ll be amazed at what you actually accomplish in the course of 24-hours.

Take some time to also journal some of the issues and feelings you are experiencing and make a plan to address them and to gather the support you need to pursue your education.