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Are College Students Considered Adults?

Abstract Adulthood: The Vague Years

A Brigham Young study found that 80 percent of parents don't consider their 18- to 25-year-old college students to be adults. They're calling the group that's wrestling between adolescence and adulthood "emerging adults" and that label doesn't quite sit right with me. I do think there's a real gap between identifying as a teen and calling yourself an adult, but I'm not sure why academics are trying so hard to pin down every year of our lives as one thing or another.

We all have unique life experiences that cause us to feel more adult at times and less so at others, but the whole emerging-adult thing makes me feel like they're making the age group into a product. Responsibility in terms of driving, drugs, alcohol, sex, and language were factors that parents used to determine their children's levels of adulthood, while parents and their kids agreed that accepting responsibility for actions was the most important factor.

I don't think there's an "it" moment when you suddenly become an adult, but I do think it has more to do with paying your own bills and contributing to society than learning how to brake slowly. When did you start considering yourself an adult, or are you there yet?


Join The Conversation
Lovaajn Lovaajn 9 years
I work and put myself through college...but, I still don't feel like an adult.
JessNess JessNess 9 years
yeah I have to agree that raising the voting age to 24 is ridiculous. The reason it was lowered to 18 was because 18 year olds were entering the military, being drafted and being sent to war. People thought that it might be a good idea that the "young adults" who were being sent to fight the government's war should be allowed to participate in government by voting. So you want to raise the voting age to 24 and not let all of the young soldiers over in the Middle East and stationed every where else participate in the government that they are working for. Seems completely unfair. Also just because you are 18, seem immature and are probably not financially independent does not mean that you do not that the right to be a responsible citizen.
Beauty Beauty 9 years
I started paying my own way as soon as I graduated from high school; I didn't have financial help from my family. So yes, I definitely felt like an adult at age 18 because I was on my own, supporting myself, and getting an education. Can't say I completely loved working three jobs (receptionist, retail worker, and janitor)while balancing a full-time course load, but in retrospect, it made me a better manager of my time. I think I became an "adult" pretty young — but I was always kinda serious like that.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
I became an "adult" the second my daughter was placed in my arms, at age 20. Sure I felt like one when I was paying my own bills and got married, but I think you grow up a lot when you realize the world isn't about at all. Why must we label? At every stage of life you look back and see things differently than you saw them at the time. Besides, there are many 30 year olds out there who act more childish than some 20 year olds. "Adult" means different things to different people, so does "maturity".
bugness bugness 9 years
Hmm, this was done at Brigham Young? That's interesting, because I hear there are a lot of guys there that are ready to settle down pretty early in their adulthood. While 18-25 is a lot younger than it used to be (My parents were married with a child when they were my age, and I don't feel ready for that at all no matter how much I would like it), constitutionally, we are adults. I don't think a new label should just be slapped on us because of what parents think of their grown-up children. There are plenty of people beyond 30 that don't deserve the "adult" title. Let's just stick with not labeling people?
K-is-for K-is-for 9 years
I am a 25 years old, I have a home, a career and my own family. I very much so consider myself to be an "adult" and have since age 21 or so. I do, however, think it is different for everyone. I have friends around my age and younger and honestly feel like a caregiver sometimes.
HipMom HipMom 9 years
I thought we had long settled for "young adults", that seems fair and not offensive.
Jessie-M Jessie-M 9 years
I like the term 'emerging adult'...'young adult' reminds me too much of the 'young adult' section in the library with all of the sweet valley high books :P I am only 20, and definitely feel like an adult. I Haven't lived at home for a few years now or depended on my parents for anything financially like rent or tuition...and I have definitely overcome some things in my teen years that should not have been placed on a 17 year old's shoulders, which matured me a lot. I feel that it depends on who you talk to for what age should be considered an adult. I feel like a responsible adult, while my boyfriend who is also 20 seems more like a child (lives at home, parents pay for everything, he can barely turn on the stove without asking me for help). It really does depend on how a person's parents prepare them for adulthood, either spoiling them with whatever they want or doing it 'tough love' style.
phatE phatE 9 years
jaden.. i know this is going to sound bad, but i think it's you that needs to grow up a little if you think 24 should be the new voting age..
melizzle melizzle 9 years
I've been on my own for years. I have a full-time job. I do mature things like save for retirement. I'm married. But inside, I still think like a five year old. :)
genvessel genvessel 9 years
i think it's when people don't treat them like adults that we run into bigger problms down the line...
Dixie-Theychangedit Dixie-Theychangedit 9 years
I grew up very young and was a mother by then, however, I still think "college age" denotes "kid" as in "college kids" to most people, so howabout 'postteen', as my 11 year old daughter is now considered a 'preteen'.
littlemissme littlemissme 9 years
I am 19 and I still consider myself a kid :OY:
junebiswas junebiswas 9 years
I dont know what to say about myself. I'm turning 21 soon and I've been living with my boyfriend for two years now. And I do housework, I can cook, I do our bank work and stuff and attend college at the same time. But financially, I still need money from my folks. So I guess, I'm somewhere in between.
JessNess JessNess 9 years
Hey samischo I'm going to UCSB also. Im finishing up my third year. I think at 18,19 you are not really an adult unless you are completely independent. I think at 18 I definitely was an adult mentally but financially I was still dependent on my mom. At 20 Im still dependent on my mom because of college. HOWEVER I do pay my bills and budget my money. Also I live by myself and am responsible for my own apartment. Next year after I graduate Im going to be moving back in with my mom to save up money for grad school and getting my own place but I will definitely be financially independently. Its scary but Im ready for it
sparklemeetspop sparklemeetspop 9 years
I'm with you Savvy. I feel that many older people might forget what it's like to be young and without responsibility. I'm convinced that people today aren't any different than 100 years ago. While I believe I am an adult(I participate in an adult world and have adult responsibilities), I don't think I'll ever be fully prepared for what life throws at me. Some people equate that to adulthood, but I think it's unattainable. I sometimes feel like a 14 year old stuck in a young adult's body!
jadenirvana jadenirvana 9 years
I definitely think eighteen is extremely young and should not be considered adult. I was just saying I think the credit card age and voting age should be raised to 24. I lived with my parents until I was 21 and felt very young for a long time past when I was technically adult. I don't think I felt like a real adult until I got my own health insurance. Getting that card was the "it" moment for me.
samischo samischo 9 years
yeah i'm a freshman in college at ucsb, living in the dorms and eating on a meal plan. my parents pay for everything and even though i have been working since i was 16, i still get an allowance. nothing too adult there, which is probably a good thing because if i had any more responsibility than passing school, i would go absolutely insane. sucks to go home though and have a curfew and be treated like i haven't been living on my own and making my own decisions.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
I think a lot of it has to with going to college. The whole college environemnt is so transitional, you can't really feel like an adult when you are living in a dorm with an RA! I paid for college on my own, but now that I've graduated I still feel like I need a year or two to really figure life out, even though I work about 60-70 hours a week and pay all my own bills. Something about being on a meal plan tends to really not make you feel like an adult! I think that's why some people feel more grown-up younger, they didn't go to college right after high school, moved out and had some time to become adults. I'm 23, and I bet it'll take me another year before I finally admit I'm getting old....
sophia_HL sophia_HL 9 years
and since I still look 25, I still don't get taken seriously!! You just can't win.
sophia_HL sophia_HL 9 years
That is so stupid. No wonder no one took me seriously at that age!
Sammi_784 Sammi_784 9 years
i'm 20 but i first felt like an adult when i was 14/15. the reason being is that a lot of things happened in that year and i had to grow up quickly. obviously i have learnt a lot since then and will continue to do so as i grow older, but that was the most significant and turbulent year of my life (to date) and the first time that i properly felt as though i had left childhood behind. i like the term 'young adult'. it's kind of like saying 'you have responsibilities and independence yet it's ok if you make childish mistakes, you're still learning'. it makes the transition easier.
LadyAngel89 LadyAngel89 9 years
I've felt like an adult a long time, I've been working since high school, moved out of my parents and never went back when I was 16. Organized and paid for everything since thing including college. Now I've moved a few times, have a career that I love, and am saving to buy a house. And this is the first year I can legally drink alcohol.
princessjaslew princessjaslew 9 years
I'm 27 and I'm still in school. My parents still pay for everything (sadly enough) and half the time I act like a child. But its very difficult to learn to be an adult when you are perpetually a student because you keep thinking you are 'safe'.
pequeña pequeña 9 years
I agree, "young adult" is a more approrpiate term. I'm 19, I have a job, I go to college, I pay my own bills and rent and I live in a shared flat with my boyfriend, so I don't feel like a teenager anymore, but I don't feel like an adult either.
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