Interesting story from NPR that talks about the continuing delay in the onset of adulthood (sounds like a disease) that has some implications for our discussions in this community. For instance, the average age of women and men marrying is now 26 and 27.5, up from 20 and 22 fifty years ago. We’re having kids a lot later, and in general, complete financial autonomy doesn’t happen very quickly after college. (Read: Parents need to keep saving.) Alan November in our Seton Hall classes refers to this phenomenon as the “Boomerang Generation”…they keep coming back.
And why do they keep coming back? Well, a big part of it is because they are in debt from going to college.
“As it is now, because I have strings attached, as far as school
goes â€” loans and how I’m paying for school â€” that’s kind of what’s
keeping me from entering adulthood,” Herron says.
And they are spending more time in school:
And school is the other part of what Arnett calls the “quiet
revolution.” The number of early 20-somethings in college has doubled
over the past five decades. Today, there are more women than men
attending college. Attending graduate school is more common, also,
thereby increasing the length of time people spend preparing for
(All of which makes me think my “Dear Kids, You Don’t Have to Go to College” post is still pretty relevant.)
Now the upshot of the piece is that all of this is pretty much ok. We’re living longer, we can mature more slowly. The model is shifting, and it’s alright.
I’m not sure I agree. I want my kids to find their independence, to connect to their passions, to not be dependent on the traditional structures to identify their expertise or “success.” My wish for them is absolutely entrepreneurial; now that I’ve joined my wife in starting my own business, I want my kids to be free agents as well, to be able to pursue what they love on their own terms. I know that may not be their path, but I want them to know that it absolutely can be.
(Thanks to David Portnoy for the pointer.)
Heather Ross says
Interesting post, Will. I know that we are living longer, but evidence suggests that we are physiologically maturing earlier. While people may be choosing to have children later, many are having them a lot younger.
Midge Frazel says
This is why I paid for my only child to go to college and graduate school so she could concentrate on her life goal which was to be a teacher. Massachusetts requires new teachers have a Master’s degree within the first five years of teaching. It’s a big expense for young people but it keeps our colleges in business. (Yes, that was supposed to be sarcastic)
Now to teach, not that I am bitter or anything (grin), colleges and universities are seeking people only who have doctorates. Can the expense get any higher?
When I got my bachelor’s (in 1969) it was a joke among women that the next degree they were expected to get was a “Mrs.” If you weren’t engaged by your senior year, it was thought you’d be single forever. Now we know that means early divorce.
College is not for everyone but is it becoming the new high school?
Ross Fischer says
I should add that paying off my debts all by myself was a learning process in itself. Sure, at the time it was terrible and I couldn’t believe that I was stuck with such a bill. I think living on a small school teacher salary made it even harder to take. However, how long does it really take if you budget wisely?
I always wonder how do we can get independent learners from a culture that teaches kids to be as dependent on others, parents, and teachers as much as they can.