In my first semester of the masters of higher education program, I took a course on student development theories. In order to understand how a traditional undergraduate develops, we first had to reflect on our own undergraduate journey. Each student created an art project in addition to a written paper that used prominent theories to explain our experience.
I had a jagged experience that involved transferring after my second year, switching majors, then switching back. I symbolized this experience with a Jacob's ladder toy. When the top panel of the Jacob's ladder is flipped, each other panel flips in sequence. This movement creates the illusion of progress even though there is none. I used photos from the summer before my first year of college through my last semester to signify my own illusion of progress.
I learned a lot about myself through this reflective process. Even though my undergraduate experience ended more than a decade ago, there are still key moments that created those back-and-forth decisions that ultimately led me to where I am today. I did not find one developmental theory that explained my experience exactly, but the practice of trying to make sense of student psychology helped me remember what young students go through.