Coming of Age in Rural America
Becoming an Adult Today Isn't What it Used to Be
Young adults today are very different from prior generations, and a typical route to adulthood no longer exists. For instance, many young adults under the age of 30 are not married and live with their parents. They are often in school and working at the same time, and they frequently change jobs or hold several part-time positions. In general, young adults now take longer to finish school, settle into marriages or partnerships, and begin parenting.
Juggling family, education, and work in new ways causes many young adults to experience a great sense of uncertainty. They are turning to their parents and family members for support more than ever before, and in turn, parents, educators, and researchers want to know how to help.
Rural Youth Face Special Challenges in Entering Adulthood
Although rural communities can provide many assets for youth, such as smaller schools and tightly connected networks of adults and peers, some rural youth assume significant risks compared to their urban counterparts.
- Historically, rural youth have had lower postsecondary educational achievement, lower academic attainment expectations, and fewer career goals.
- They also expect to marry and have children earlier.
- Rural communities also have high poverty rates, limited resources for schools including low teacher salaries and declining enrollment, and strains on family life.
- They have few options for post secondary schooling and jobs in their home towns.
- To be competitive in today's economy, rural youth often face the difficult decision of leaving behind their communities and families to move to bigger towns and cities where they must confront very different ways of life.
- Those who choose to stay must grapple with limited opportunities, often leading to a patchwork of multiple jobs.
- They also form families of their own earlier and often do not have higher education and job training to bolster their chances of economic success.
- Unfortunately, even in the midst of all these challenges, some rural youth have more avoidant coping strategies.
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