The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School

The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School

The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School

The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School

Synopsis

Wild parties, late nights, and lots of sex, drugs, and alcohol. Many assume these are the things that define an American teenager's first year after high school. But the reality is really quite different. As Tim Clydesdale reports in The First Year Out, teenagers generally manage the increased responsibilities of everyday life immediately after graduation effectively. But, like many good things, this comes at a cost.

Tracking the daily lives of fifty young people making the transition to life after high school, Clydesdale reveals how teens settle into manageable patterns of substance use and sexual activity; how they meet the requirements of postsecondary education; and how they cope with new financial expectations. Most of them, we learn, handle the changes well because they make a priority of everyday life. But Clydesdale finds that teens also stow away their identities- religious, racial, political, or otherwise- during this period in exchange for acceptance into mainstream culture. This results in the absence of a long-range purpose for their lives and imposes limits on their desire to understand national politics and global issues, sometimes even affecting the ability to reconstruct their lives when tragedies occur.

The First Year Out is an invaluable resource for anyone caught up in the storm and stress of working with these young adults.

Excerpt

Because most readers, myself included, like to have a sense of how the author has structured the text—let me start with a brief roadmap. I begin my first chapter inductively, telling the stories of four teens I met during my fieldwork at New Jersey High School (NJ High, a pseudonym). These teens are unique individuals, but their experiences and stories allow me to introduce many important aspects of teen moral culture and of the early transition to adulthood during the first year after high school. In the second chapter, I discuss starting points—of this project as a contribution to scholarly research and of teens as products of families, faiths, and communities. The remaining chapters lay out four life “arenas,” which are of central to peripheral significance to teens during the first year out. Navigating relationships and managing gratifications are the primary foci of culturally mainstream American teens, while the realms of leisure, money, and work are of less recognized but striking import to teens' daily lives; these subjects comprise the third and fourth chapters. Of lesser significance to teens are their educational lives, and distantly trailing educational life are political, social, national, and global matters; these topics receive attention in the fifth and sixth chapters. Included in the final chapter is a discussion of the broader implications of this analysis, for various readers: scholars, educators, clergy, parents, and youth. An appendix supplies details about . . .

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