Recent young adults are coined the generation of slackers and increasingly viewed as lazy and entitled (Adams 2012; Rampell 2011). As these labels suggest, many young adults today are not fulfilling the traditional benchmarks towards adulthood. The traditional markers of adulthood focus more on biographical transitions, which include finishing education, entering the labor force, gaining residential independence, entering the workforce, getting married, and bearing child (Arnett 1994; Arnett 1997; Settersten 2011; Stanger-Ross Collins, and Stern 2005). Recent generations fail to fulfill these expectations because modern American culture has encouraged young adults to explore themselves during their late teens and twenties. Because of the increase in number of young adults that delay entrance into adulthood, this period of identity exploration was labeled “emerging adulthood.” Yet not all young adults choose to delay their entrance into adulthood; some choose to follow the old model of adulthood and enter the job market right out of college. This study researched how young college graduates determined which coming of age path to take and what social factors influenced their decision. The different factors researched include economic performance, cultural expectations, familial social status, and race. The study found that it was difficult to separate the young adults onto strictly the traditional pathway or the untraditional pathway and only one of the participant consciously delayed his transition into adulthood. The participants utilized rites from both pathways when narrating their views on adulthood: biographical markers as placeholders that marks their transition but also heavily valued the development of a personal identity.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Stephen Ellingson


Access to this thesis is limited to Hamilton College, Clinton, NY.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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