Transition to Adulthood

Transition to Adulthood. Changing landscape of early adulthood Entry into adulthood is longer, often ambiguous, and generally occurs in a more complex

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Transition to Adulthood

Changing landscape of early adulthood

Entry into adulthood is longer, often ambiguous, and generally occurs in a more complex and less uniform fashion.

We can now say that adulthood no longer begins when adolescence ends.

Changing times

A lengthy period, often spanning the 20s, is now devoted to:

• further education• job exploration• experimentation in romantic relationships• personal development.

The path to adulthood has become less linear, from school to work, marriage and childbearing

Two revolutions that reorganized work and family

Technological revolution raised the importance of technical knowledge, and thus education, in the labor market.

Gender relationships within home and work lowered barriers to the workforce for women and created space for more egalitarian


The varied timing and sequence of adult transitions contributes to a mismatch between institutions and young adults.

Workplaces also do not accommodate the competing demands young adults face.

Consequently, families are required to fill in, but they frequently lack sufficient resources and know-how to help young people successfully negotiate this complex period.

Children in families in the top quarter of income categories receive at least 70 percent more in material assistance than children in the bottom quarter

Other supports

Two other institutions can provide a bridge between the end of adolescence and an independent adult existence: residential four-year colleges and the military.

Four-year colleges provide some supervision, direction, supports such as medical care, housing and opportunities for civic engagement and public service, while also providing more independence than is usually provided to adolescents.

The military provides a similar institutional bridge between dependence and independence.

Problems create additional risks Youth who are disconnected

between the ages of 16 and 23—that is, youth who for a substantial period of time are far more likely during later adulthood to be poor, to be on welfare, to have weak ties to the work-force, and to have a lower likelihood of marriage

Vulnerable Populations

Populations which are especially vulnerable during the transition to adulthood, are those in the mental health system, in foster care, in juvenile justice systems; reentering the community from the criminal justice system;

as well as high school dropouts needing special education services and the homeless, disabled or chronically ill;

Government programs play a major role in the lives of these children and youth, yet support typically ends between the ages of 18 and 21

Today’s institutions don’t fit with the needs of today’s youth

Many features of American society operate on the assumption that the attainment of adulthood occurs earlier or that most youth are in college

From the late teens through the late 20s, many young people do not have the social support and financial resources to sustain them.

Theories of Young Adulthood Erikson

Individual must make a commitment Levinson

Forming a dream• Vague sense of self in adult world

Finding an occupation• Define the set of activities young adults pursue

Establishing a relationship with a mentor• Enables the young adult to see how all the tasks of the

period can be woven together Establishing love relationships

Understanding School-to-Work Connection Those who believe in a “payoff” for high school

achievement work harder Facets of the worlds of education and work

Transparency--extent to which young people can see through the intricacies of the rules of school/work and plan a course of action

Permeability-Ease of movement from one part of the system to another

Clearly specifie rules = greater tranparency Difficult to obtain credential = less permeability Hamilton--Role of Apprenticeships and mentors


Does mentoring promote positive outcomes?

What are the underlying processes?

What are the implications for the field of prevention?

“A landmark study in 1995 by Public/Private Ventures, an independent research group, documented the positive impact this type of relationship can have. The study demonstrated that Little Brothers and Little Sisters are:

46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs 27% less likely to begin using alcohol 52% less likely to skip school 37% less likely to skip a class 33% less prone to violence: less likely to use hitting to deal with problems.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Baltimore

Impact Study

Formal ProgramsWide-ranging effects on youth outcomes:

emotional/psychological, problem behavior, social competence, academic, career/employment


Programs & Organizations

• Size of effects small (d = .18) and preliminary cost-benefit ratios are not compelling "small, d = .20," "medium, d = .50," and "large, d = .80” (Cohen, 1988)

• Significant variability in quality of mentoring relationships established in programs

• Effect sizes vary significantly across programs








Effect on Youth

# of Samples

Negative Effect

Small Effect

Small to Medium Effect

Medium to Large Effect

Large Effect

Effect sizes increase with greater use of theory- and empirically-based practices








0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Number of Practices


e o

f E


t o

n Y


th O






Small Effect

Medium Effect


Practice Based Based____________________________________________________________Monitoring of Program Implementation X XSetting for Mentoring Activities (Community-based) XScreening of Prospective Mentors XMentor Background: Helping Role or Profession XMentor/Youth Matching XMentor Pre-Match Training XExpectations: Frequency of Contact X XExpectations: Length of Relationship XSupervision XOngoing Training X XMentor Support Group XStructured Activities for Mentors and Youth X XParent Support/Involvement X X

The State of the Field