A new phenomenon is occurring in America culture.
We’ve compartmentalized our teenagers to be “youth,” and now we’ve created a new space where students from 21-30 are now called Emerging Adults.
Some colleagues use the phrase Extended Adolescence, as they try to understand why so many 21-25 year olds are lagging to engage in the ‘normal’ business world. I get at least three phone calls a week from concerned parents who have students living in their homes with a University degree wondering “What am I supposed to do now?”
Emerging Adults are institutionalized
Under our current education model, students are institutionalized to sit in a classroom, listen to lecture, study materials, and then regurgitate information for a test. Ask any high school student today what their last school exam was, and then try to re-create some of the questions they studied for. What you’ll find is an inability to draw on the majority of information because students ‘cram’ for the test and then forget about the details.
Unfortunately, that way of learning bleeds into the other areas of their lives. They’re waiting for life’s test, in a sense, and they’re cramming to ask What am I supposed to do with my life.
Many of the students I work with are conditioned to wait for their perfect job to just show up.
Expectations are set too high
Not long ago I interviewed a student to be a media/marketing intern with my non-profit company. I offered him free lodging, food, and free travel everywhere I go. In addition, I told him I could afford $30K in salary package, and he could use all the photos and videos for a portfolio to create a base experiential package for another job.
When he left in frustration, I wondered “What did I say?”
Six months later I met the young man, still looking for a job, and he told me, “I was so insulted by your offer. I was sure I was worth at least $100K with my college degree.”
I couldn’t believe it.
Somewhere, our young adults are learning that the time they spend in University should propel them to the highest earnings bracket as soon as they leave College. Somehow, we need to engage with those students, and help them understand the landscape of living outside University life, and what it means to actually begin their Vocation without any experience. And that’s called MENTORING.
Deep Change Is Necessary Today
As I look at the landscape of today’s emerging adults, I feel like there is a necessary space where they need to explore Who they are, not What they know. With such a high emphasis put on education and knowledge, we’ve left them to figure out their core beliefs by themselves. It’s time we invite emerging adults to the table in order that we can help walk with the Leaders of Tomorrow.