The transition to adulthood should no longer be conceptualized as a predetermined passage from one social institution to another, like school to workplace or singlehood to marriage (Andres, 1999). There is a need for new perspectives that look more broadly at the transition to adulthood, taking into account the multiple contexts that affect and are affected by the transition, and a broader definition of successfully reaching “adulthood.” Such a perspective requires a focus on patterns of functioning across multiple domains (i.e., school, family, peers, dating, and work roles) as well as on continuity and change across time. We consider the transition to adulthood to be a continuous process grounded in the daily choices youth make regarding the focusing of their energies across the multiple social contexts of family, friends, school, work, and romance. We believe that the level and quality of functioning in each of these contexts during adolescence have implications for the skills and the educational, occupational, and familial plans that youth acquire and then act out. We explore these fundamental propositions using a person-centered analytical approach.
Primary Domains of Functioning During Late Adolescence
Most psychologists point to family, school, work, romantic relationships, peers, and extracurricular activities as critical contexts of development (Brown, 1990; Eccles, Barber, Stone, & Templeton, 2002; Elder & Conger, 2000; Jessor, 1993; Larson, 2000).