Chanced upon this LinkedIn article by the author of an upcoming book on the future of higher education. He touches on points that resonated with what I remembered of Barbara Dafoe Whitehead’s State of our Unions Symposium piece on the protective nature of the college experience for maturing adults, or emerging adults (a terms that just doesn’t sit right with me).
Jeff Selingo writes:
“Let’s face it, most 18-year-old’s are not ready for the working world, and some are not even ready for a college campus. The four years of college turn adolescents into young adults and through the campus experience—living with different people, participating in activities and athletics, and being responsible for one’s self—gets them ready for life.”
and Dafoe Whitehead writes:
“For all young people today, the pathway into a stable marriage is prolonged and arduous. It takes more time, discipline, and maturity than it once did. In negotiating that pathway, college plays an important role. The advantage of a four-year college degree is not just economic. It is social. College life provides an extended moratorium for young men and women who are sexually active but not yet ready for marriage or children or jobs. In my years living in a university town, I can attest to the fact that the average undergraduate is no more mature or disciplined than the average kid who works at 7-11 – maybe less so. But where the undergrad does have an advantage is that he can get drunk and hurl bottles at the police and he will get a slap on the wrist from Dean of Students. The kid at 7-11 may have to do time for a similar offense. (For him, it’s not just college partying. It’s called assault with a deadly weapon.) And while he’s in jail, he will lose his job.”