Photo by Angello Lopez

Next week I am speaking at the Princeton Emerging Adults Conference. I spend more time studying adolescents 18 and under than I do emerging adults, who are generally considered to be somewhere between 18 and 25 or 18 and 29 years old. So in preparation for the Princeton Conference, I’m re-reading some important research on emerging adults.

The term “emerging adults” was coined by Jeffrey Arnett. In his book, Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: A Cultural Approach, he notes 5 markers of emerging adults:

  1. Identity exploration
  2. Instability
  3. Feeling in-between
  4. Self-focused
  5. Age of possibilities

Some questions that remain about this idea of emerging adulthood are: Is this a permanent (or at least semi-permanent) change in the way adolescents transition to adulthood, or is it more culturally derived and more temporary? A somewhat related question is, what do we do with the fact that many cultures, especially non-western cultures, do not go through this stage and these 5 markers?

I’m looking forward to my time at Princeton. I don’t have a definitive answer myself for the type of questions I suggest above, but I’m looking forward to wrestling with these and other questions.

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