Reflections on the College Experience: Similarities and Differences Across Generations
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The college years are an important time of identity formation for many individuals. Research and theories about life-span development indicate that the college years are a transitional period from adolescence to early adulthood and that the historical and social nature of a time period also contributes to identity formation. To examine the role of generational and cohort factors in one's college experience, 14 college graduates from two cohorts (6 individuals ages 22 to 30 and 8 individuals ages 50 to 60) were individually interviewed about their college years. Through an analysis of the interviews, six themes were identified: cultural models of decades, the individuation process, marital expectations, academic expectations, career exploration, and political activism. These themes provide insight to the similarities and differences between the cohorts and show the effect of generational factors in the individuals' identity formation during college.