People who were born before 1964 tend to define adulthood by certain accomplishments — moving away from home, becoming financially independent, getting married and starting a family.
In 1960, roughly 70 percent of 30-year-olds had achieved these things. By 2000, fewer than 40 percent of 30-year-olds had done the same.
Read the whole thing. Brooks' economics is often execrable, but his sociology seems on target (but I'm no sociologist).
His term "odyssey" is quite apt. Young people today do a lot more foreign traveling than they used to.
My wife's view of the odyssey years is not so sanguine. She sees a failure of college to provide a transition to the job market.
Ben Casnocha strikes me as someone who is doing a lot of things right as a young person. He also strikes me as someone who ought to benefit from college, unlike the majority of young people who just happen to show up there. His perspective will be interesting to follow.
UPDATE: A commenter points to the latest essay by Paul Graham. It is a wide-ranging and interesting essay (Graham is one of my favorites). Near the end, he speculates on the future role of college.
In a startup you're judged by users, and they don't care where you went to college. So in a world of startups, elite universities will play less of a role as gatekeepers. In the US it's a national scandal how easily children of rich parents game college admissions. But the way this problem ultimately gets solved may not be by reforming the universities but by going around them.
...Instead of trying to get good grades to impress future employers, students will try to learn things. We're talking about some pretty dramatic changes here.