Adolescent Development in Educational Contexts
One of the most complex periods of adjustment for adolescents is the shift from high school to college. When adolescents begin to grow up and advance to higher education they are also being asked to become autonomous, abstract thinking, problem solving, planning individuals. This type of transition is unique to their life experience. For many adolescents, this will be the time when they are empowered with decision making power and the independence to explore life in contexts in which they may have previously been limited. In addition to the freedom, adolescents who attend college are also being exposed and prepared for their future, by the means of education, as well as life experience.
The transition from high school to college causes many new issues to emerge in an adolescent’s life. The student shifts from a state of dependence to independence. The adolescent may be living away from their parents and family, which would lead to a drastic increase in responsibility. The adolescent may also be facing new types of responsibilities including: financial, career choice, a college-work schedule, family and peers, and other psychological stresses. Of the issues an adolescent faces, there is a psychological separation-individuation adjustment that occurs when they adapt to college life (Lapsley et al, p.286).
Within this separation-individuation transformation that is occurring, in the lives of these adolescents, there are four dimensions of independence that an adolescent will embark upon as they begin to separate from their parents. Functional independence is the ability of the adolescent to manage their personal lives without the assistance of their mother or father. Attitudinal independence refers to the shaping of the individuals personal values, beliefs, and opinions. Emotional independence describes the young adult’s ability to move away from the need of approval, closeness, and emotional support. Finally, conflictual independence explains the freedom from excessive guilt, anxiety, and resentment. (Lapels, p.286).
As adolescents begin to explore their new independence, there is room for some significant problems and concerns. Since these students are just beginning their collegiate lives, there are some extreme differences from high school that will be observed and internalized. First, college isn’t free. One of the most problematic adjustments to higher education is that there are drastic increases in financial costs. Until now, education, books, and other school related costs may have been provided for the student or were the responsibility of others. Tuition, lab fees, parking fees, books, testing materials, school supplies, and many other expenses become the student’s responsibility. Financial issues may also include living arrangements, car payments/insurance, credit cards, student loans, grants, savings, and scholarships begin to occupy the adolescent’s thoughts.
In order to facilitate their financial needs, adolescents must become assertive and research what resources are available to them. This would include visiting the financial aid office, applying for various grants and loans, and using the Internet to assess options. Seeking out scholarships is also an often-overlooked financial resource. Many first-time college students are unaware of the abundance of scholarships and where to go to find them. Also, adolescents should pay a visit to their personal banks. There are many banks that offer checking accounts with no monthly service charges, and offer low-interest credit cards for college students.
Times have also changed from when a child would follow in the footsteps of their parents regarding career choice. Today, adolescents have limitless career choices and opportunities available to them. There is only one problem, many new college students are still searching for a path to their career, or for their major. Many adolescents do not adequately explore career on their own and also receive little direction from guidance counselors at their schools (Santrock, p. 449). Without career counseling many students don’t know where to look to find careers that would best suit them, how to choose the best college, and how to effectively work toward that career goal.
Students often go to college expecting something special however, their ascent from high school to college may be less than ideal (Santrock, p. 251). As students are immersed into a new, strange, and distant educational culture, there are many resources available to the student that will make the transition smoother. First, colleges often offer orientation programs for new students to help them get involved in campus life. Students may begin to learn that there are countless activities that parallel the school in college. There are quite often an immense number of student organizations, clubs, athletic teams, and groups that will provide social components for the adolescent.
The college campus also has several functional institutions within it. There are medical resources available to students at little to no charge. Colleges often have health centers were students are able to visit and expenses are met by fees included in tuition costs. Also, many colleges have gyms or fitness centers on campuses that are available for little to no dues.
In order for adolescents to adjust to college these and other resources must be promoted and advertised so that students are able to minimize the financial, social/emotional, and psychological stress that is a regular part of independence.
In addition to the turmoil an adolescent faces when they succeed from high school to college, there is a substantial amount of pressure and separation a young adult may feel when they have finally reached the end of the pathway that leads to their career. For many individuals the process of the resume, interviews, and the concepts of professionalism is often overlooked. However, it is these very core concepts that will either land you the career of your dreams or leave you in a pit of desperation.
“Years ago, finishing high school use to be an end in itself – a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood and a ticket to a respectable job.” (Banuelos, 1996). Unfortunately, this is no longer true. In order to help students compete successfully in today’s job market and to help the nation keep pace with a changing economy, education needs to respond.
Today’s young people have many decisions to make as they begin to enter the workplace. They have many career interests, but are unclear on what to commit themselves to. It is also true that some occupations must be chosen early, even before the age of 16, because of the extensive preparation required for different career fields. High school graduates do need to make earlier choices to make good use of training and entry-level career opportunities. “The evidence for the cost of such early decision making is abundant: Many of our adult clients find themselves floundering at the end of these first careers because they have not engaged in adequate exploration in adolescence.” (Raskin 1998) This lack of clarity is a built-in safety mechanism that stops us from taking action until we know what we want. When people are unsure of their future, they follow the “path of least resistance” and usually stays stuck or move into a new career that usually turns out to be more of the same drudgery.
When we focus solely on job placement, getting into careers “out there” in the market place, we often “end up” in a career where we’re working just to pay the bills. Unfortunately this is how many of us choose our careers often leaving us feeling like something is missing.
We often fall into careers without first thoroughly investing our unique set of abilities, purpose, and personality needs. Basically, this is a process of getting to know and trust yourself. A poor career match usually turns into an economic exchange, your life and energy for money. Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions that you will make in your lifetime. By aligning your career choice with your personal values and abilities, you set yourself up to get what you want.
Getting what you want begins with having new choices and possibilities in your personal reality map. You do have a choice, you can reduce the pain temporarily or you can move toward creating new possibilities for your life.
What’s important to me? What do I most value? What comes natural to me? What do I love about the world around me? If you’ve asked these questions in preparation for a career choice, you’re probably in a career you love.
The most common “career from hell” story has a giant sucking sound. The life energy being sucked out of you for a job that just pays the bills. If you are not satisfied with your career, it’s probably time to decide if you need to change careers or change what “career” means to you.
Most of us try to take one big leap from high school into a career. This is hard to do and for many people, very short sighted. Trying to decide on what to do with your life in one big step is what frees people from making positive changes. It’s easier to learn about yourself and the world a little at a time and begin choosing smaller pieces to your career and lifestyle.
Use your imagination to integrate your definite commitments, values, dreams, desires and natural abilities into the perfect day. An interesting thing happens to people when they clean out the cobwebs and allow themselves to dream a little. The key thing about a future vision is “what it does” for you now, it gives you meaning and puts you in motion. Your career can be as exciting and fulfilling as you dare to imagine it. As Einstein said, “Our imagination is a preview for what’s to come.”
As you begin building a vision for the future, there are many questions you need to ask yourself. What kind of job or career do you want after high school? Will you need to go to college or vocational school to get a job? Do you want to continue to live with your family or live on your own? “An individuals real success at the work place is dependent on success in the home and with the family.” (Cassel, 1998).
As you prepare to enter into the work force, the first step will be deciding on a career path; preparing a resume; and landing your first interview. Your professional resume is your “first impression.” A professional resume will include a brief objective, a summary of your achievements and your skills. Your second impression will most likely be made over a telephone conversation with the prospective employer. Do you have professional phone manners? Finally, you’re first in-person first impression. The prospective employer will undoubtedly judge the manner in which you’re dressed and how you talk. Dress for success and present yourself with confidence.
How can employers tell whether the people they hire have integrity, are responsible, are drug-free and are hardworking? Many problems facing employer’s today result from a lack of employee integrity. It is extremely important that you display high personal work ethics and a positive attitude towards your work otherwise your employer sees that you are not motivated enough to help him or her highlight or help their business grow.
When showing interest in a particular job or prospect for a job, you should always be honest with your employer and potential employer. You should let them know as well as see your enthusiasm for that job. Seek information about the position to make yourself more knowledgeable. Do research and show them you are aware of what the company does. Talk to someone who might be able to give you insight on what the responsibilities of the job holds. Be prepared to answer both short and long-term goals, salary goals, past experiences that led to present career objectives. In order for a prospective employer to perform a meaningful assessment of any candidate, it is necessary to obtain data on four fundamental factors—-intelligence, motivation, personality, and knowledge/experience. While it is not possible to obtain complete information on all of these elements, the absence of data on any one of the factors will be a significant handicap in assessing an applicant’s prospect for success at work.
Today, young adults, weather they are just out of high school or starting a second career or trying to enter into a career after raising children are faced with serious questions. These questions range from how do I pay for college to how to obtain needed on the job training while in school. Other than doing internships with companies that could exploit your time and effort, there is an alternative to internships paid or unpaid. The US Military offers a number of ways to assist many people in paying for college tuition and gaining crucially needed professional skills. The military offers both active duty tours of as little as years to as much as a twenty + year careers. The greatest program the military offers is their reserve program. In the reserves like its active duty component, the reserves offers all of the same benefits as its active duty counterpart with one additional benefit, Train while you go to school. This allows the student to attend the college of their choice wile still in school. In the remaining portions of the paper I will discuss many of the additional benefits offered through the reserves that can assist young adults with their educational goals through financial assistance to on the job training to employment wile in school.
The first is the enlistment Bonus Program that can be as much as $20,000. This is a bonus paid to the individual for enlisting in one of numerously short occupational fields. Many of these fields may just be one in which you intend to pursue as a career. In this field, you will receive professional training, leadership skills and an investment your future. The total time required to be gone could range from three to six months. You may elect to complete boot camp during summer after graduating from high school and complete your occupational training the following summer as not to interrupt your fall schedule in college. The second is the Montgomery G.I. Bill and Army College Fund, which offers up to $50,000 for college. This is a program that requires a six-year commitment. Now six years may sound like a long time but the average time it takes a student to complete college is about five years. This will only require you?re to devote an additional year in the reserves to fulfil your commitment. This program is in addition to the Enlistment Bonus Program not instead of. The next program offered is the Loan Repayment Program, which helps soldiers pay off student loans they’ve taken out in the past. Soldiers can qualify to have their loan repaid at the rate of one-third of the loan for each year of active duty served, up to a maximum loan repayment of $65,000. For Reserve soldiers, the max is $20,000, depending on their MOS. Not many 38-day-a-year jobs offer benefits like that. Another great benefit is the ability to earn your degree while in training. Soldiers completing courses of study while on duty are given college credits for those courses. These credits can be used to complete an Associate in Arts Degree at Monterey Peninsula College or possibly transferred in to a course of study you may already be enrolled in. Soldiers that have completed some college prior to joining the Army can work toward a Baccalaureate or Masters degree while in the reserves at a variety of local colleges. Many soldiers find that they are able to complete their degree requirements long before their military commitment is completed. The next benefit of serving in the reserve wile in college is the ability to fulfill Foreign Language requirements for college through the military?s Foreign Language Proficiency Program. This program will pay up to $100 per month. Most military Education Centers have language labs where you can study new languages or brush up on previously studied ones. Several programs are there to help soldiers and their spouses prepare for overseas assignments however, many of these programs can be transferred towards college credits.
In conclusion, young adults leaving home need to begin considering issues such as career goals, financial neccessities, potential employers and even how they dress. In this paper issues of autonomoy, responsibilities, where to find resources, responsibilities as a college student and resouces for off setting the cost of college. The fear of leaving home and going of to college can be a frightful one however, with patience, the right resources, proper planning and foresight, you will concure college with all the tools necessary to be sucsessful the career of your choice.
Cassel, Russell N. High School Success and School Accountability with Tentative Job Career Plans for Each Student. Education 119 , no. 2, pgs. 319-321, Winter ?98.
Santrock, John W. (7th ed.) Adolescence. McGraw-Hill: 1998.
Department Of Defense Pamplet (DA 78-4500), 1999.
Virgil Fernandez , (Jan. 2000) The Complete Veterans’ Benefits Manual.