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The US is a large and diverse country, but residents of both the biggest cities and the smallest rural areas share a few rites of passage, such as graduating from college.
Not every American experiences each of the five important events listed below, but many do. In any case, graduating from high school and college, finding your first full-time job, getting married and having a child are causes for celebration in many American families.
Graduating from High School: American students spend four years in high school. First-year students are called freshmen; second-year, sophomores; third-year, juniors; and fourth-year, seniors. These same labels also apply to college students.
Many high school students work part-time jobs in high school, earning money for everything from movie tickets to gasoline to annual college tuition.
Most people graduate from high school between the ages of 17 and 19. After high school graduation, students either choose a college to attend or find a full-time job.
Graduating from College: Many students who attend a four-year college are experiencing their first taste of independence. This is the first time many of them have spent any extended period of time away from home. It is not uncommon, however, for students to live at home when they enroll in a college or university and commute to school. This is especially true for students attending a two-year community college.
College students, like high school students, often hold part-time (or even full-time) student jobs. Sometimes these positions are on-campus, such as jobs in a library or department office. Many students also work off-campus, in restaurants or businesses. Students frequently try to find a job relating to their college major in order to have experience in their chosen field.
Graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree often takes place when students are in their early or mid-20s.
Finding a Full-Time Job: When people stop attending school— whether that is after earning a high school diploma, a bachelor’s degree or a graduate or post-graduate degree— they are expected to find a full-time job.
A full-time job in America is usually 40 hours per week.
People who have not already moved out of their parents’ home usually do so at this time. This is not always the case. Depending on the amount of money they have saved and the wages they earn at their job, some people spend a few more years under their parents’ roof. Some people also return home after finishing college in order to save money.
Getting Married: Many Americans are in their mid-20s when they marry, but it is not unusual to be married at a much older age or as young as 18. It is rare for people to be married before they graduate from high school. In addition, most traditional undergraduate US college students are single.
Most married couples live together on their own and not with the husband or wife’s parents.
Having Children: American women are on average about 25 years old when they give birth for the first time, although many wait a decade or more to start a family. The idyllic American family long has been said to include two children and a dog. With divorce and remarriage not uncommon, however, stepsiblings and stepparents are normal in many families.