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Barna’s newest report interviews teenagers about what they think life will be like for them when they are 25 yrs old, and I’ve clipped a few paragraphs:

May 10, 2010 – Spring is graduation season for millions of students. What are the aspirations of today’s teenagers as they think about their future? A new research study from the Barna Group examined a representative, nationwide sample of 602 teenagers, asking them to describe what they think their life will be like roughly 10 years from now, when they are young adults. To help teens respond with a specific time horizon in mind, the survey asked them what they believe their lives will be like when they are 25-years-old.

Family and Church
Marriage and church involvement were on the third tier of aspirations. Most American teenagers expect to be engaged in these traditional institutions (58% and 63%, respectively). However, only a small percentage felt certain about these outcomes in their own lives: 29% of teenagers felt they would definitely be “actively involved in a church or faith community” and just 12% of teenagers felt certain about “being married” by age 25. Teenagers are even less likely to entertain traditional goals regarding parenting. Less than half of teenagers (40%) felt they may have children by age 25 and only one out of 11 (9%) said they would definitely become a parent in their early adult years. Of course, considerations of marriage and parenting are dependent on finding a willing partner; nonetheless, these pursuits are not top priorities for most students.

Fame versus Service
Media are filled with celebrity news and obscure-turned-famous individuals often made stars via reality television. Given the cultural fascination with fame, perhaps it is not surprising that one-quarter of teenagers (26%) said they expect to be “famous or well known” by the time they reach age 25. To their credit, teens are more likely to express the desire to be “regularly serving the poor” (48%) than to be famous, although that priority is less flattering considering that only 7% of teenagers said they would definitely be doing such other-oriented work as a young adult.


Age and Gender
Demographic differences played a significant role in teen aspirations. Teen girls were more likely than boys to define priorities and objectives. Girls were more likely to picture their lives with nine out of the 10 elements assessed in the study (the exception was being famous, an aspiration equally attractive to both sexes). Young women were twice as likely as young men to want a difference-making job, to be married, to have children, and to regularly serve the poor.

In terms of age, the youngest teens were much more idealistic than older teens in many ways. One of the biggest gaps is their predicted connection to a church: 41% of middle schoolers expect to be actively involved in a congregation, but that drops to 26% of high school freshman and sophomores and 24% among juniors and seniors.

High school students were also less likely than middle-schoolers to believe they would have a great-paying job, be married, have kids, be serving the poor, or experience fame by the age of 25.

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