Developmental Tasks for College Students


Most students recognize that they need to take care of a lot of things while they're in college:  classes, work, friendships, etc...  However, there are other, more subtle tasks to navigate often left unrecognized and unexamined.  These are "developmental tasks" that people need to accomplish to turn from teenagers into adults.  These tasks include:


  1. Changing from being dependent on older people (particularly parents) into thinking and acting independently.
  2. Learning how to deal with authority in an adult manner.
  3. Learning how to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity; particularly in work, family, friendship, and intimate relationships.
  4. Developing mature sexual relationships.
  5. Developing a healthy self-esteem, particularly as it relates to feeling competent.
  6. Solidifying a personal value system that is congruent with one's self-image.
  7. Learning how, when, and who to trust.
  8. Learning to accept responsibility for one's own behavior.


These tasks aren't always easy.  Sometimes it's like running through a strange house in the dark; we have to bang into a few walls before we learn how to move with relative grace.  As with most things, these tasks aren't like a light switch; our "maturity switch" isn't off one moment and on the next.  They are accomplished through a process that develops slowly over time, frequently without our even knowing it's happening.  One of the more pleasant surprises of life is when we realize that we've crossed that invisible line into full adulthood and know that our lives are truly our own.