What we need to know about ’emerging adulthood’

In a recent column, I brought up the topic of ’emerging adulthood,’ which has garnered the attention of psychologists and sociologists, particularly Jeffrey Arnett. This concept, this developmental stage, has peaked the interest of scholars across the nation, but it also explains a number of trends that have become more prevalent among 20-somethings.

For instance, in the 1970s it was commonplace for a 21-year-old to be married or about to be married, caring for a newborn or expecting a newborn, finished with education and settled into a full-time, long-term job. These phases in adulthood have been shifting. Today, for the typical 21-year-old, marriage is anywhere between 4-5 years (often more) away, parenthood is commonly not thought of, education is ongoing through graduate school or an extended undergraduate program and job changes are frequent. The road to adulthood is a long one for many 20-somethings as they attempt to find their place in the world, their interests and passions that will keep them fulfilled.

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