Defining Maturity

What constitutes maturity? Traditionally, when someone graduates from high school and gets a full-time job for the summer, he or she is considered maturing. High school graduation is an important turning point that does launch ...

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What constitutes maturity? Traditionally, when someone graduates from high school and gets a full-time job for the summer, he or she is considered maturing. High school graduation is an important turning point that does launch the adolescent into the world of work, higher education or possibly military service.

However, there are other qualities that help define a maturing person. Is the person in question responsible for the choices and decisions that he or she makes? Does the person have the skills to think through his or her decisions? How does the person in transition navigate life's complicated landscape?

The transition from high school to adult life is a complicated matrix of relationships. A growing number of teenagers roll out of high school into adulthood without a smooth transition. They have no life plan or strategy for their future. They take whatever job they can get and are not concerned about exploring future opportunities.

Life on a good day is complicated and messy. Transitions are never easy, and not without some confusion and stress. High school is supposed to prepare one for the major transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Some high schools do a great job; others are disaster in this regard.

This important life transition is not merely about academic excellence and study skills but also about life skills. Is the adolescent ready to think like a young adult? Does he or she possess adequate problem-solving skills? Is the young person a good listener?
It is easy at this stage of life to get detoured and lost in all the social mayhem of growing up. One can miss the important challenges that call us to be all that we can be. Good communication skills are paramount, as well as being attentive to the social cues of our culture and society.

A growing number of high school graduates are getting ready to go away to college for the first time in the fall. Are they socially and emotionally ready to leave the family nest? Are they prepared to live independently and be responsible for all of their social choices? More importantly, have we prepared them adequately for this important transition into young adulthood?

Unfortunately, I believe we've done an inadequate job preparing our high school graduates for their first year of college, especially for those go away. Academically, I think those who have been accepted to college are prepared to succeed. However, I'm not sure most are ready for the social challenges of college life.

Time management is probably the greatest challenge. Most college freshmen can't wait to settle into their dorm and meet their roommates. The first week of many college campuses is one endless party. Every night, there is another social gathering to get to know the students he or she will be living with for the semester. The fraternities and sororities start recruiting. The first month of college for most college freshmen is a social fantasy come true!

By October, reality has set in. The first papers are due and the reality of balancing one's time has either worked itself out or become a real problem. Most college campuses have little accountability regarding freshmen life. RA s attempt to keep things in check, but they are all college students as well. It's easy to fly under the radar and get away with staying out all night and partying.

Due to confidentiality regulations, parents don't have the right to know if their students are failing out of class, unless their children have signed a statement giving parents permission to have that information. So parents are the last to know, if their college freshman is in academic trouble. If their child had social problems, they're only notified if there was property damage, or if they d been arrested by the campus police.

Colleges and universities definitely need to revisit their confidentiality policies regarding students under the age of 21, especially for parents who are paying tuition. The lack of communication between parents and college administration only fuels some of the serious difficulties incoming freshmen encounter.

Most freshmen orientation programs attempt to make the transition to college life minimally stress-less. Unfortunately, too many college communities are failing in this regard. The statistical data regarding first semester freshman, academic probation and withdrawal from school is alarming.

In most cases, all students that are forced to withdraw and/or are on academic probation, clearly possess the academic profile to succeed as college students. Navigating the freedom that college life presents is oftentimes a major obstacle to academic success. A growing number of students seem ill-equipped to find a balance between social freedom and academic responsibility.

Too often, incoming freshmen compare their senior year with their first semester in college. They fail to realize that few college professors take attendance, and no one is going to call home if they cut class and don t hand assignments in on time. Most college professors treat first semester freshman like they treat seniors-as adult learners who are accountable and responsible for their decisions.

Many freshmen are prepared and ready to make the transition to college life. They have a few missteps, but stay on course. They have their priorities in order and have reasonable time management skills.

Parents, who are sending their students off to college for the first time, should make every effort before they leave to put in place an ongoing communication mechanism that is not overbearing or intrusive, but rather supportive and informative. As much as our children want their independence and their freedom, they need basic structure and accountability as they make this important life transition.