John J. Miller points out that the idea that college should be the best four years of one’s life, brought to his attention by a University of Michigan mailer, is an odd goal.
I tend to agree – and have a few thoughts about this:
1. This is a terrible setup for the rest of life. If students think that life is downhill after college (which is implied with sayings like this), then this could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps it suggests that the college life (or at least its lifestyle) should be extended before one has to “get real” and pursue more adult goals. Adult life certainly is different than college life – but this idea suggests it is the peak of life and adult life, in comparison, is lacking.
2. How does this work for students who find that college is not the best four years of their life? The college experience does not appeal to everyone nor is it perfect. If you were not thrilled with everything in college, should you feel guilt? Remorse? Did you miss something? College is not just a fun time – it is a period of transition from being a teenager to being an adult and this can be a difficult process.
3. When did this shift from college being preparation to college being “an experience” happen? Which is the more important goal, particularly for a society that hopes to have productive and learned citizens? At the same time, if one is paying $20-50k a year for college, it had better be a good experience…
Pastor Mark Driscoll responds to the recent New York Times article titled “What is it about 20-somethings?” that discussed the five events that traditionally mark becoming an adult.
Driscoll draws a distinction between men being consumers and men being cultivators:
There are a lot of things that Christian guys do that aren’t evil, they’re just dumb and childish.
Men, you are to be creators and cultivators. God is a creator and a cultivator and you were made to image him. Create a family and cultivate your wife and children. Create a ministry and cultivate other people. Create a business and cultivate it. Be a giver, not a taker, a producer and not just a consumer. Stop looking for the path of least resistance and start running down the path of greatest glory to God and good to others because that’s what Jesus, the real man, did.
I wonder how other Christian leaders would respond or have responded to the social phenomenon of “emerging adulthood.”
The New York Times Magazine takes a long look at emerging adulthood. Early on, the article contains a quick description of this recent phenomenon:
We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.” Sociologists traditionally define the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones. Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so. A Canadian study reported that a typical 30-year-old in 2001 had completed the same number of milestones as a 25-year-old in the early ’70s.
An interesting read. While this article focuses on the research of psychologist Jeffrey Arnett, there is a lot of recent research on this including research on emerging adulthood and religion by sociologist Christian Smith.