The new developmental period of “Emerging Adulthood” is not just a clever marketing ploy concocted by psychologists. The term was coined by Dr. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett in 2000. This period from 18-25 coincides with the final stage of neurological development. Furthermore, this new developmental period is occurring not just in America, but in all western industrial societies. One reason for the prolonged reliance of emerging adults on parents is due to the increased demand for post-secondary education during the Information Age. The belief that the age of 18 is associated with the age of maturity is now a myth. Instead, it is a transition into a new developmental period, and the individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 are called “thresholders.”
During the period of Emerging Adulthood, the developmental milestones are to commit to a course of study, a career, a place to live and to a significant other. This is best captured in the following quote: “There are two important questions in life…where are you going and who are you going with? It is important to keep the questions in the correct order.” Unfortunately, the cost of living vs. the income that many thresholders can earn is not equivalent. As a result, it may be necessary to cohabitate with a friend or an intimate partner. However, these roommates are not always reliable. As a result, 40% of Emerging Adults move home at some point during their 20s. Surprisingly, 25% of individuals in their 20s live at home on any given day.
Parents of Emerging Adults will experience a shift in their parent-child relationship. Thresholders tend to reach out to their parents more than adolescents. An easier dialog, a greater feeling of respect, and a sense of shared values are part of this developmental period.
In order to encourage thresholders who want to succeed in college, we have developed a 3 session seminar called “College Bound!” The seminar leaders are Dr. Abigail Saneholtz, Dr. Alison Singleton and Dr. Michael Smith. We provide tips on time management, career decision making and creating a healthy lifestyle. Organizational skills and stress management skills are provided in this educational seminar for students preparing for the transition to college.
Download: “College Bound”