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By Travis Rudloff

Alternative Assessment

When will they grow up


April 30, 2020

Recently, a friend shared a video with me they were required to watch for class. With little explanation, I clicked the link, which directed me to a Ted Talk titled, “Why does it take so long to grow up today?”

The video begins by spewing statistics comparing milestones young people experience from today to 50 years ago. Marriage, children, education and other relatable milestones are compared in the video.

As expected, ages where these milestones are reached from 50 years ago to the present day, have increased.

The speaker continues to explain that this has caused a new human stage to be created between the childhood and adulthood stage. This stage is—unofficially—referred to as emerging adulthood.

Yes, time has naturally caused the development of this emerging stage, but the speaker claims specific revolutions have resulted in this development.

Revolutions responsible for this emerging stage: technology, the women’s movement and youth movement.

When referring to a technology revolution, this is not simply phones, iPads or laptops. No, it is the shift from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy. Over the past 50 years, manufacturing economy has been acquisitioned by cheap, efficient, reliable machines.

Where has this left workers in this economy?

Out of a job.

This forces individuals to learn more specialized skills that cannot be acquired in typical American classrooms. Our school systems have not changed to meet the needs of our new economy—that is for a different column, though.

So, many individuals pursue higher education. This, typically, results in young citizens pressing pause on the transition to adulthood for an average of two to six years. More complex economies require more skills.

The women’s movement also played a role in this stage referred to as emerging adulthood. In the video, the speaker projects the statistic that in 1960, there were twice as many men in college as women. However, in today’s world, 58% of college attendees are women, while 42% are men. At the same time, women make up half the enrollment in professional school.

This is a revolutionary transition compared to 50 years ago. While the normal expectation for women then was to get married and start a family, the majority of young females attend college and begin a career before starting a family. This, again, results in adulthood beginning later in life.

Finally, the youth movement, which was prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s, placed a negative connotation on the concept of adulthood. While adulthood meant freedom, it resulted in responsibility and beginning life. This promoted the idea of not growing up. This, again, allowed for the stage of emerging adulthood to form.

So, when considering all of these transitions and factors, it only makes sense that this stage coined as emerging adulthood has become today's reality.

In all reality, it is because the youth of today are not forced to grow up and transition to adulthood like in previous years. While it may be frowned upon, the concept makes sense.

If you are more mature and not forced to make decisions prematurely, more than likely, they will be healthier, more stable decisions.

You could possess a better job, become a better parent, build better relationships. All of these are possibilities by simply having a few more years of experience under the belt.

While taking time to grow up is a good thing, I do believe an end goal needs to be developed and constantly considered. Life should not be taken for granted, and it is important to live it to the fullest.

Yes, it is important to grow up, but as I was recently told, you are only at this stage once in your life.

Make sure you enjoy and make the most of every moment.


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