GROW UP: Prof finds students delay adulthood

  • A Georgia Tech professor says she discovered through a course on "adulting" that students define "adulthood" differently than previous generations.
  • The professor found out from students that they would only consider themselves to become "adults" after having children of their own.

When does one become an "adult"? 

Legally speaking, one is an "adult" when they turn 18. That would mean since college students are between the ages of 18-22, virtually every college student is, in turn, an "adult." But some college students aren't so sure of this. 

"It wasn't graduated from college, it wasn't getting your first job.. you're paying your own rent, you have your health insurance. That's what I think being an adult is."   

Rebekah Fitzsimmons, a Georgia Tech University English professor who taught a course in fall 2016 titled, "Adulting: Coming of Age in 21st Century America," told Business Insider  recently that during the course she asked students to say at what stage in life one becomes an "adult." 

Their responses were shocking. 

[RELATED: Professor: universities should treat students as children, limit their free speech]

"The vast majority of them said that they thought it was when you had kids of your own," Fitzsimmons said. "It wasn't graduated from college, it wasn't getting your first job. I joked with him that my definition was, you're paying your own rent, you have your health insurance. That's what I think being an adult is." 

"But they said, you know, once you have kids, that's it — you're definitely an adult," Fitzsimmons added. 

As if one assuming the role of "adult" only after having children wasn't eyebrow-raising enough, recent polls show that a growing number of young individuals are postponing parenthood as compared with previous generations. 

"In previous generations, that maybe happened a little bit sooner, a little bit younger, and there were clear demarcations for, hey, that person's a grown-up," Fitzsimmons told Business Insider

[RELATED: U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner: College kids not ‘developed’ enough for free speech]

The article in which Fitzsimmons is quoted also cited data from the Centers for Disease Control, which show that a growing number of women in the U.S. are having children while in their 30s because of more women waiting longer to give birth for the first time. Meanwhile, the number of women having children while in their 20s is decreasing. 

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Jon Street
Jon Street | Managing Editor

Jon Street is a news editor for Campus Reform. Six years ago, Jon cut his reporting teeth fresh out of college as an intern at Media Research Center's, where he interviewed multiple members of Congress and former presidential candidates. From there, he went on to complete a stint at, where his exclusive, investigative work was picked up or cited by the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, National Review, and the Drudge Report, among others. More recently, Jon spent three years as an assistant editor at In his free time, Jon enjoys trying new coffeehouses around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and traveling back to his home state of Missouri to spend time with his family.

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