Defining and Discussing Independence in Emerging Adult College Students

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research identified college students’ definitions of independence as well as topics they wish parents had discussed with them prior to college. Applying the theory of emerging adulthood to understand college students’ construal of independence, participants included 117 emerging adults, aged 18–25. Utilizing inductive coding to categorize participants’ open-ended responses from an online questionnaire, most emerging adults conceptualized independence in terms of self-reliance or freedom, and this was examined through the lens of social construction theory. The majority reported they felt their parents communicated what was necessary regarding independence with them before college. For those who did not, however, life skills and expectations were two of the topics students most wished parents would have communicated prior to college. Implications and suggestions are provided.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Adult Development
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • College
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Independence
  • Social construction


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