Authors say US PSE students remain in “emerging adulthood” long after graduation

September 3, 2014

The authors of 2011’s Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses have published a follow-up to the original work. For Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa tracked more than 1,600 US college students at 24 4-year institutions, analyzing 918 survey responses and 80 interviews. The authors found that 53% of graduates surveyed earned less than $30,000 per year, and nearly a quarter lived at home 2 years after graduating. 70% received financial aid from their parents. Only one-third of respondents said they read newspapers online or in-print on a daily basis, and just 16% said they discussed politics and public affairs on a daily basis with friends or family. The study also found that students’ performance on the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) correlated with graduates’ ability to hold a job. Arum and Roksa say that graduates are prolonging a stage they call “emerging adulthood,” and say that PSE institutions' focus on “consumer” preferences rather than rigorous academics is partly responsible. Critics of the research, however, say that broader societal factors are also to blame, though PSE institutions must play a role in finding a solution. The Chronicle of Higher Education (1) | The Chronicle of Higher Education (2) | Inside Higher Ed