Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa

4. Parents

  • Compared to 1960, almost twice as many young adults are living with their parents. After two years, 24% of the people in this study were living with parents or relatives. Most of the rest (73%) were living independently by themselves or with roommates. Unemployment is the largest factor causing this. Non whites were more likely to be living at home as were those who’s parents lacked college degrees. Males were less likely to be living at home. Parents are providing financial assistance of some type for 70% of this sample, and the more money parents have, the more likely they are to be financially supporting their children.

4. Partners

  • After two years only 8% of this sample were married. An additional 41%, however, were in a serious romantic relationship. College is the most important source of potential partners at 40%. Surprisingly, only 4% meet their partners via social networks. People from institutions with higher proportions of women were less likely to have partners, men were less likely as were blacks and Asians. Most (81%) ended up with someone who also attended college, and people who attended more highly selective schools were even more likely a partner who attended college. Almost half (45%) had a partner from the same college while 63% attended a similarly selective institution.

4. Optimism about the Future

  • Since the 1970s, civic engagement among young adults has decreased. This includes things like club membership, church attendance, reading newspapers, and voting. Volunteering is the only area of engagement that has increased, and high schools and colleges get credit for this. Only one third read a daily newspaper and only 16% reported discussing politics. The more selective colleges produced more engaged students as did parents will college degrees, and males were more likely to be engaged. The explosion of blogs and special interest organizations has also lead to less in the way of common knowledge.
  • While this sample largely had a negative view of the current state of affairs in the US, they tended to be optimistic about their own futures, and the saw their college degree as one of the main reasons. A full two-thirds also felt that their lives would be better than their parents. Optimism of their peers who did not attend college, however, has decreased over the years. Those with a clear sense of purpose are more optimistic, but less than half had clear goals and a sense of direction two years after graduation.
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