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.