Millennials’ new take on adulthood

By BenitaZepeda

The traditional model of adulthood for many is as follows: Graduate high school, go to college, find a partner to start a long-term relationship, graduate college, land the perfect job and live happily ever after. For centuries it seems that society is obsessed with what should come next.

However, as Generation Y, or Millennials, start to propel through each transition life throws at them, this traditional model is fading. One can quickly blame the postponing of adulthood on high amounts of student debt, but a study conducted by the MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood and Public Policy found otherwise.

Young adults ages 18 – 30 aren’t jumping into life decisions as quickly as other generations have throughout the past 30 years. Out of 500 interviews with young adults, the study cited education, economics and the pressures of starting a family and marriage, to name a few, as reasons to delay significant, traditional life milestones.

Perhaps this is a good thing. Right now, it’s a competitive field for college graduates and even harder for those who don’t have a degree. Some of us may be frugal and tend to understand our life situations before jumping into them, which is different than many might think about the age group.

Millennials value the idea of time. Humans are living longer and the importance of higher education is increasing. This generation has faced economic adversity, which might be the reason some feel helpless when trying to seek an independent life after college. Being in debt and acquiring increasing amounts of interest on student loans make it difficult to live independently. This is why many recent graduates move back in to their parent’s house. However, this is just a small reason for “failure to launch,” according to the study.

Education is now a vital aspect to landing a job, and the high cost isn’t the key deterring factor—it’s the amount of time spent in higher education. And considering the economic climate throughout the past few years, this is a surprising find as to why becoming an “adult” is getting delayed.

Moving back home works in an opposite way. Because this generation is used to uncertainty when it comes to financial matters, more are willing to take chances when it comes to starting an independent life.

Almost all Millennials are delaying marriage, as well. According to the study, individuals who have a college degree are postponing both marriage and childbearing, whereas people who don’t have a degree are only delaying marriage. This lasts generally into one’s 30s.

People need to start giving Millennials more credit because many of us have our lives in order. Yes, we’re not perfect, but neither were the generations that preceded us. Just because a traditional sense of stability might be harder to find doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in our generation. As times change, so does the necessity to adapt. Prolonging life goals are simply a 20-something’s way of starting his or her life in a changing society.