Lost in Transition by Christian Smith

Millennials are probably the most researched generation ever and they are probably the most criticized generation ever. It seems like every week there is a new story about millennials not working hard enough, taking on too much debt, expecting too much from their bosses, etc.

Lost in Transition is a substantial qualitative study of 18-23 years old or emerging adults and how they interact with their environment. The study covers the areas of morality, consumerism, intoxication, sexuality, and civic and political engagement.

The results of the research were not surprising. Emerging adults are morally confused, advocates for capitalism and consumerism, frequent users of alcohol and drugs, sexually promiscuous, and civically detached. It was interesting to read the stories of the emerging adults and how hear their perspectives.

I would really enjoy seeing comparative studies that compare 18-23 adults today to 18-23 adults from twenty or so years ago. Obviously there would be some changes like media and technology, but would the heart of the matter change? Are emerging adults today significantly different from emerging adults of the past? Additionally, a comparative study that shows how 18-23 adults measure up to other older and younger generations would be interesting.

One example, emerging adults are morally confused. They are gaining their independence from the parents and have very little responsibilities, meaning their attachments to others are minimal and their moral code has little impact on their life. However, are adults over the age of 23 better at morality and are they able to communicate morality any better? Most philosophers and theologians have a difficult time defining a universal morality.

I enjoyed this book, but I felt like it was a little too critical of emerging adults. Emerging adults are in a time of transition. They do not comprehend the complexities of life and it should not be expected.

Anyone interested working with emerging adults would benefit from reading this book, but I think they should understand that this is only a tiny snapshot of college aged students.