In fall 2020, ASSETT’s Student Technology Consultants led a book club to help students think about kick-starting their careers and personal lives as young adults. Based on The Defining Decade: Why Your 20’s Matter—And How to Make the Most of Them Now by psychologist Meg Jay, the book club created a virtual space for students to discuss common experiences and anxieties facing young adults. The space to connect with peers was, as many participants emphasized, particularly important during the pandemic when many CU students have limited social contact with others.
The book cites a study of life-span development in which researchers from Boston University and the University of Michigan found that 80 percent of life’s most significant events happen by age 35 and that the most life-defining moments are concentrated during an individual's twenties. As Jay puts it, “as thirty-somethings and beyond we largely either continue with, or correct for, the moves we made during our twenty-something years.” The main takeaways of the book are to not put off important decisions using a “thirty is the new twenty” mentality while also understanding that building a meaningful life and career takes time and will not happen overnight or immediately after graduating college.
The students who participated in the book club were a mix of lower-division undergraduate students and near-graduates with diverse reasons for signing up. As one student explained, she was in a “quarter-life crisis” after changing majors and re-thinking her post-graduation career and education plans. As two others expressed, they were nearing graduation and were unsure how to begin a career or even what professional fields might interest them. Two sophomore students aged eighteen and nineteen said they signed up in order to feel prepared for their twenties.
Book club meetings were minimally structured conversations where participants were able to freely discuss themes of the book that resonated with them or connected to experiences in their personal lives. As multiple students expressed, the book club was a place to connect with peers in the face of the pandemic, which has uprooted the social settings of CU. In an exit survey, participants said that although they had thought about their futures frequently prior to the book club (these are students who signed up for an extracurricular self-help book club—they’re go-getters) the book and discussions were helpful in thinking about their young adult lives moving forward.
The Defining Decade is the second book club led by ASSETT’s Student Technology Consultants. In the spring 2020 semester, the STCs led another student-support book club based on Designing Your Life.
Image: "Books HD" by Abee5 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.