Deep Change in Emerging Adults

Young man sitting on ledge looking over clouds

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.

Written by

Founder/Director of KIVU and The KIVU Gap Year, LDG World Ambassador. Andy Braner, along with his wife, Jamie Jo, are the Founders of the Kivu Gap Year, a dynamic, life-changing extension of their 15 years of leading Camp Kivu, formerly in Durango, Colorado. Hundreds of adolescents and Millennials from around the world have benefited from their creative, wise and life-changing programs. It is also LDG’s privilege to have Andy as a valued and active member of our Board of Directors. Twelve years ago Andy invited Wes Roberts, LDG’s Founder, to be his mentor, and it is a welcome friendship that has steadily grown over these years with Andy and Jamie Jo. This couple has two daughters and three sons, from high school to early elementary…two graciously adopted from Rwanda. They live in Breckenridge, Colorado Andy has a heart to test this process cross culturally as he is currently involved creating experiences where American Youth interacting with Middle Eastern Youth. He is annually leading trips to Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. He’s written five books on youth culture, and has over 20 years of youth experience. His latest book No Fear in Love: Learning to Love other as God loves them is a look into the heart of fear in culture and what drives us to love well. Here is where you can learn more about the exceptional Kivu Gap Year: Any high school student you know needs to investigate this outstanding program.

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