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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.

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Transition to Adulthood

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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?

    Impact Study

    • “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

    Programs & Organizations

    • Formal Programs

      • Wide-ranging effects on youth outcomes: emotional/psychological, problem behavior, social competence, academic, career/employment

      • But…

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








    Size of Effect on Youth Outcomes






















    Number of Practices




    Monitoring of Program ImplementationXX

    Setting for Mentoring Activities (Community-based)X

    Screening of Prospective MentorsX

    Mentor Background: Helping Role or ProfessionX

    Mentor/Youth MatchingX

    Mentor Pre-Match TrainingX

    Expectations: Frequency of ContactXX

    Expectations: Length of RelationshipX


    Ongoing TrainingXX

    Mentor Support GroupX

    Structured Activities for Mentors and YouthXX

    Parent Support/InvolvementXX

    The State of the Field



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