I am a 21-year-old college student, and this is my official plea to anyone who will hear me: be cautious of how you address young adults.
Since the semester has started I have noticed a trend in the elders around me – professors, staff, and even parents or bosses have been addressing those aged 18 to around 23 as “kids.” Primarily this is the age of college students, on a basic level of course. This is immediately problematic when not all students in a college classroom are of those ages.
To those who are taking college classes over the ages of 23-24, being referred to as a kid can sometimes be offensive. Not only are they not the stereotypical age of a college student– which can be a tough feeling to deal with– they also truly are in no way shape or form, a kid.
The age of a student sitting in a college classroom is quite frankly, irrelevant in regards to a topic such as this. Unless you are one of the few who graduated high school early and could possibly be at the age of 17 in college, you are likely 18 or older. Once you are at the legal age to vote in the U.S., you are officially considered an adult, and if you are over the age of 21– as many college students are, you are undeniably an adult.
Therefore, college students are adults.
Now, I understand that referring to a classroom full of students as “my kids” or someone reflecting on students in a building may say, “look at those kids,” are simple expressions of speech. I like to hope that those who use this expression do not view college students as children.
Because we’re not children.
Personally, I feel I have taken tremendous steps since I was a “kid” and at 18 years old, maybe I still was. But now, I work two jobs in order to pay my rent and bills. I live on my own. I take five college classes, and I am an editor for a newspaper. I cook my own dinners and breakfasts, I can vote, I can legally drink alcohol, and I make my own doctor’s appointments. I have grown and learned the lessons a young adult must learn while taking those crucial steps into adulthood.
While your experience with adulthood may be different from mine, you are still a student in college. You are taking that step to possibly be away from your parents and living on your own, likely working insane hours to make money or pass those classes. And you are likely learning more about yourself and life every day.
Now, this is not to say that college students do not have ways to go when it comes to the trials and tribulations of adulthood. And maybe we are still kids at heart. But who isn’t? We all have a piece of our childhood selves within us, and it can easily be let out. A college student may not always act their age and may make the mistakes of someone who is not seen as responsible, but we are learning.
While we may still be learning and making those mistakes along the way, and while we may be children at heart – we are not kids. I have worked far too hard in my college career to be seen as just another “kid” in a classroom. I have spent painstaking hours writing essays, articles, and crafting videos after spending eight plus hours at work. I have been on my own and away from my family for three years and paying my own bills for two years. I have been legally able to consume alcohol for well over six months.
I am an adult, please don’t make me and other students feel less than with your words. This world is not easy, and making it as far as we have is tough. It hurts to feel looked at as less than I am when I have worked so hard to be this person and accomplish all that I have.
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