Facebook
Edutopia on Facebook
Twitter
Edutopia on Twitter
Google+
Edutopia on Google+
Pinterest
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
Subscribe to RSS

What Are the Biggest Challenges Young Adults Face Today?: Students Speak Up

Diane Demee-Benoit

Former Director of Outreach at Edutopia

New America Media, a nationwide network of over 700 ethnic-media organizations, received funding in 2006 from several foundations, as well as from the University of California's Office of the President, to conduct a survey of young people in California to better understand what young adults ages 16-22 feel are the primary issues impacting their lives.

The study -- one of the first ever to be entirely conducted by young adults' favorite communication tool, the cell phone -- had professional interviewers speak with 601 young Californians. Of those people, 31 percent attended public high school, 21 percent were enrolled a four-year college or university, 19 percent went to a two-year college, 19 percent weren't going to any school in California, 4 percent were students at private high schools, and 1 percent of students were in a General Equivalency Diploma program.

The results of the study paint an interesting picture of the upcoming generation. Among the major findings:

  • One in eight of the nation's young people live in California. Three-fifths of those in the age group are people of color, and almost half are immigrants or the children of immigrants. As the report cites, "This poll paints a portrait of a generation coming of age in a society of unprecedented racial and ethnic diversity -- the first global society this country has seen."
  • Twenty-four percent of the respondents consider the breakdown of the family to be the most pressing issue facing their generation today, followed by violence in neighborhoods and communities, and then poverty and global warming. However, several significant differences among racial and ethnic groups existed.

    White young adults named family breakdown as number one, followed by poverty and global warming. African American and Latino youth, however, believed violence in their communities was the most pressing issue facing their generation, followed by family breakdown and poverty. Asian American young adults, meanwhile, named family breakdown as the number-one issue, but they felt neighborhood violence was almost equally important, while poverty and global warming tied for third.

  • Personal finances and school ranked as high stressors. One-third of respondents said school causes the most stress, followed by money, personal relationships, and peer pressure. Asian Americans were significantly more likely than other groups to mention school as their biggest source of personal stress, while African Americans were more likely to mention money.
  • Young Californians embraced the state's increasing diversity. Most said that the majority of their friends were of a different race. They were just as likely to identify themselves by personal tastes in fashion and music, for example, as by traditional identity markers such as race and ethnicity.
  • Sixty-four percent of young Californians though they would be married or have a life partner at some point, and 63 percent believed they would have children.
  • Young Californians understood that postsecondary education is important. Over two-thirds expected to earn at least a four-year college degree, and 96 percent of respondents believed that if they work hard, they could achieve their goals.

What do you feel are the most pressing issues facing young adults today? What do you think about the results of this study? Please feel free to share your thoughts!

Diane Demee-Benoit

Former Director of Outreach at Edutopia
Related Tags:

Comments (25)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

J.D's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I FEEL THAT THE MOST STRESSFUL THING ABOUT GOING AWAY TO COLLEGE IS WONDERING HOW YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT WITH OUT YOUR FAMILY THERE WITH YOU.I FEEL THAT ITS A BIG STEP TO MAKING IT IN LIFE YOU GOT TO MAKE THAT FIRST STEP TO ADULT HOOD ON YOUR OWN. SOMETIMES ITS NICE TO HAVE THAT LITTLE PUSH WHEN YOU NEED IT THE MOST BUT NINE TIMES OUT OF TEN YOU GOT TO MAKE IT ON YOUR OWN. BUT ANOTHER ISSUE THAT ALOT OF COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE FACING TODAY IS THE COST OF TUITION ITS HARD TO STAY FOCUSED IN CLASS WHEN YOU KNOW YOUR TUITION IS DUE AND YOU DONT HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY THE SCHOOL AND FINANCIAL AID ONLY GIVES YOU SO MUCH SO ITS LIKE HOW DO I ENJOY THE COLLEGE LIFE IF I KNOW I CANT AFFORD IT?

PBNYC's picture

This is so, but the worse underlying problem is that of enforcing unwanted pregnancies upon adolescent girls too young to have children of their own and raise them responsibly, especially as single mothers. It traps that family in poverty. The increment in public assistance per child does not guarantee that the children will have adequate nutrition. Nutrition directly affects cognitive abilities. The educational system and prior family exposure to formal education also adversely affects the development and future success of people in socioeconomically depressed environments. English-language skills, even among such native English-language speakers, are lacking in contemporary young generations to begin with, in mainstream schools. Poorer educational opportunities exacerbates illiteracy. Promotion of literacy on every level, including health literacy, and adequate information on contraception is a good start. Legislation mandating such measures would be a much better start.

unia kiima's picture

One person argued that in a separation war the child is not affectes. Now i realise how wrong they were. Our morality is going down the drain. We have to guarantee a great generation ahead and we have to each start wher we are. Maybe we could reach out to the children near us and be that exemplary adult. The fact that all through the media divorce is celebrated is not helpful.

There has to be a way we can rescue our young ones or atleast die trying.

maxer john's picture

Your post really informative.It will be a growing area to watch this year. Like you say, comments keep the conversation going.They also provide additional insight to the readers and the bloggers. Comments offer a different perspective and put a "face" to the readership.OC Web DesignIt also makes me feel angry at parents for not being there 150% for their kids. If you can't afford to pay for your kid's school, fine. But at the very least BE THERE for them emotionally and mentally. It is truly survival of the fittest in the USA and I hope morality improves because our young should not have to struggle with low morale in their formative years.

chaster matt's picture

English was introduced in 1819 with the establishment of the modern port in Singapore. The port attracted migrants from neighbouring countries, such as China and India, resulting in a diverse linguistic landscape. Proximity to these various languages has, over the generations, influenced the local variety of English. The colloquial form of Singaporean English is called Singlish, and is largely characterised by the mixture of local expressions with English (e.g. the use of discourse particles such as lah).Singlish is commonly used by Singaporeans in informal contexts,however it can be incomprehensible to non-Singaporeans.kitchen cabinets Orange CountyWhen the Speak Good English Movement was launched in 1999, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong described Singlish as "English corrupted by Singaporeans" and "broken, ungrammatical English".According to the local government, mastery of Standard English is imperative to raise living standards in Singapore,and Singlish causes problems when Singaporeans need to communicate in English, the "global language of commerce, business and technology".The movement thus campaigns for an improved standard of English used in Singapore. In hopes of extending its reach, the movement adopts a different theme and target group each year. Also, the movement collaborates with various partner organizations to provide programmes in line with the movement's goals.

fiamo xen's picture

future children due to the breakdown in marriages today. Many women shoulder all of the responsibilties and the children in the end suffer the most trauma. I think it is due time that the men out there stand up and be responsible.Office space Children should be taught in high school more about healthy relationships, parenting, responsible living. Indeed , we can not keep going on this path.

rosetaylor's picture

At Trinity College Dublin under-graduate students are formally called "junior freshmen", "senior freshmen", "junior sophister" or "senior sophister", according to the year they have reached in the typical four year degree course. Sophister is another term for a sophomore, though the term is rarely used in other institutions and is largely limited to Trinity College Dublin. The term, "first year" is the more commonly used and connotation free term for students in their first year. The week at the start of a new year is called "Freshers' Week" or "Welcome Week", with a programme of special events to welcome new students. An undergraduate in the last year of study before graduation is generally known as a "finalist."
Credit Crad Debt Relief

Sign in and Join the Discussion! Not a member? Register to join the discussion.