Nov 022003
Authors: Amy Resseguie

Being an adult may be one of the most desired intangibles of

some college students’ lives.

However, according to a recent study sponsored by the National

Opinion Research Center and the University of Chicago, the age at

which a person is considered to be an adult is going up.

While the marker for adulthood traditionally stood at 18 or 21

years of age, most Americans now believe people are not really

adults until age 26.

The study found that many people perceive the process of

becoming and adult to include being employed full time, supporting

a family, being financially independent, living independently of

one’s parents, being married and having a child.

While some CSU students agree that these are important stages in

reaching adulthood, others said they feel they are adults, even

though they have not reached some of these milestones in their own


Bridget Idler, a 22-year-old senior majoring in French, said she

feels like an adult due to the responsibilities she has in living

on her own and in balancing her life between school, work and

personal time.

One experience that helped Idler define herself as an adult was

studying abroad in France.

“Going by myself and learning to travel by myself is a major

part of my feeling like an adult,” she said.

Brett Rooks, a 21-year-old senior forestry major, also said he

considers himself an adult, because he pays his own bills and takes

responsibility for his choices.

“Being able to provide for yourself and giving yourself goals

and things to do,” Rooks said. “If I don’t sit down and study, I

won’t reach my target GPA, and when I was younger, I wouldn’t do it

(at all).”

Both Idler and Rooks admit there are times when they do not feel

grown up yet, especially when they think about graduation and

trying to find a job while the economy is bad.

Kevin Lyness, an assistant professor in the Human Development

and Family Studies Department, said that he sees a lot of confusion

in students regarding when and how they feel like they are becoming


“There’s not a lot of consensus because I think (students) are

in a period of transition,” Lyness said.

While Lyness agrees that the events listed in the University of

Chicago study are important markers in growing up, he said marriage

and children are becoming less significant indicators of adulthood

than they once were and said it is difficult to pinpoint just one

or two events to define adulthood.

Lyness also said the age of puberty is going down while the age

of adulthood is going up, thereby turning adolescence into a period

of about 10 years, which makes the transition even more difficult,

he said.

“Our legal system has different definitions of an adult, as

well,” Lyness said.

A person can drive at 16, vote, go to war and be tried as an

adult at 18, purchase alcohol at 21 and rent a car at 25 without

purchasing the optional insurance package.

Wendy Wermerskirchen, 20, understands that confusion.

“I consider myself an adult responsibility-wise, but not

age-wise,” said Wermerskirchen, a sophomore microbiology major. “I

have responsibilities that are that of an adult, but because of my

age I still have a lot of restrictions. I can’t rent a car, I can’t


Shannon Palombi, 20, a junior in criminal justice, said she

wants to be considered an adult, though at times she feels


“There are some times when I need my mommy and want to be 2

again,” she said.








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