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Now, a majority of young people get some college experience in one form or another, whether it's a four-year residential school or a community college.Moreover, women now make up a majority of college undergraduates, and many want to build a career before they marry and have children, Arnett says."I think it can be harder for minorities who come from a culture where the expectations of what you should do are very strong," she says. Hamilton, Ph D, a professor of human development at Cornell University, focuses on young people who can't afford college or who don't move into vocational programs.
Many emerging adults who face problems becoming independent have faced past challenges meeting developmental tasks for one reason or another, she says.
"There are enormous costs to young people who are not equipped to 'plug in' to adult roles and responsibilities," Tanner says. Phinney, Ph D, a psychology professor at California State University, Los Angeles, writes on emerging adulthood's different features in ethnic-minority groups.
Both for cultural and economic reasons, many young people from ethnic-minority groups tend to take on adult responsibilities earlier, contributing to the family income and taking care of siblings, sometimes at the cost of slowing down their own schooling, Phinney says.
"They end up doing this work their whole lives," he says.
Hamilton thinks there's a missing institution in American life--one devoted to helping young people join the primary labor market of decently paid jobs with benefits and a chance for advancement.
They shared a perception of "feeling in between"--knowing they were pulling clear of the struggles of adolescence and starting to feel responsible for themselves, but still closely tied to their parents and family.