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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Many emerging adults find themselves navigating the complex transition from adolescence to adulthood while enrolled in college. The key to navigating the demands of college (and emerging adulthood) is not simply what decisions one makes but also how one makes them. This chapter foregrounds college student development research regarding the developmental capacities that underlie young adults’ decision-making processes. Drawing upon two longitudinal studies of college student and young adult development, the authors show how young adults move from uncritically following external formulas learned in childhood toward gaining the capacity for self-authorship—a journey that involves developing internal criteria for crafting one’s identities, relationships, and beliefs and yields the ability to navigate external demands. The authors emphasize that diverse combinations of personal characteristics, experiences, and meaning-making capacities yield diverse pathways toward self-authorship. They also highlight how higher education can promote self-authorship and explore further research to better understand self-authorship’s relevance across cultures.

Keywords: Emerging adulthood, college, development, self-authorship, higher education

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