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The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School (Morality and Society Series) Paperback – May 15, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0226110660 ISBN-10: 0226110664

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Product Details

  • Series: Morality and Society Series
  • Paperback: 239 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (May 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226110664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226110660
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #889,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Tim Clydesdale has done a remarkable job of getting inside the minds and lives of American teenagers. I know of no other study that provides as rich and up-to-date insights into the decisions teenagers make as they leave high school and enter the work force and college. The stories are riveting. The candid confessions about doubts and anxieties are sobering. The First Year Out is an example of sociological research at its best."
(Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University, author of The Next Wave:� How Young Adults 2007-01-02)

"Tim Clydesdale provides a new and powerful vision of America’s young people.  He opened my eyes to realities I never imagined even though I have been studying the nation’s college students for the past twenty five years."
(Arthur Levine, President, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation 2007-01-02)

“This is an excellent book, with scholarship and writing of the kind that more sociologists ought to be producing. It is exceptional in its longitudinal and qualitative focus on this life-course transition, its fascinating big-picture story, its consistent and understandable plot-line, and its counter-intuitive overturning of big cultural stereotypes about life after high school. Clydesdale’s observations about stability and managing daily life tasks are fascinating, and provide important contributions to our substantive understanding of this important piece of social life."
(Christian Smith, author of Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of 2006-09-19)

"A high;y readable, compassionate, and empathetic look at the lives of young people as they leave high school and enter universities, colleges, vocational schools, and employment. . . . [It] should be of interest to life course, youth, and education scholars alike."
(Wolfgang Lehmann Canadian Journal of Sociology)

"Clydesdale has written an engaging and accessible book about how American teens experience their school life, family life, work life, religious life, peer life, and leisure time. It is filled with delicious nuggets of information as well as thoughtful (and sometimes surprising) claims about who American teens are, and what, if anything, 'we' can do about it. . . . This book has much to recommend it and I encourage educators to read it in order to gain some insight about the worldview of the people they intend to educate. Also, I would not hesitate to assign it in an upper-division sociology of adolescence class."
(Robert C. Bulman Teaching Sociology)

"Clydesdale provides directives for all educators (faculty, residence life, student activities, career services) who work with first year students. . . . His is an interesting voice in the dialogue on how incoming students are changing."
(Katie Beres NACADA Journal)

"Worthwhile reading for a number of different audiences. It is relevant to educators, as its vivid descriptions of youth culture will inform, and likely challenge, pedagogical practices. The depiction of youth culture will also be helpful to social practitioners and others engaged in direct practice with young people in their late teens. . . . Finally, scholars of American Culture will find it a fascinating reflection on mainstream culture."
(Sarah Taylor Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare)

"Cydesdale's impressive study yielded a rich and entertainingly told story of what young people are up to in their first year beyond the family nest. It is a superb book, convincing in its ethnographic realism, surprising in its findings, insightful in its analyses and discussion."
(Paul Attewell Qualitative Sociology)

About the Author

Tim Clydesdale is associate professor of sociology at the College of New Jersey.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Michael Robertson on May 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
Much writing on higher education falls into predictable categories, such as moralistic (sometimes voyeuristic) screeds about debased student culture or high-minded praise of the transformative power of the liberal arts. Tim Clydesdale's "The First Year Out" is neither of these. Instead, it's a rigorous, engaging, beautifully written work of social science that tracks a representative sample of teens through the last year of high school and first year of college.

Clydesdale's empirically based analysis is unassailable, but no one is likely to be comfortable with all his conclusions. Contrary to the moralists, Clydesdale reports that most students are onlookers, not participants, in the hedonism sensationalized by novelist Tom Wolfe. Dashing the hopes of liberal arts idealists, he demonstrates that few students are willing to wrestle with fundamental questions about identity, belief or politics during their first year out. Clydesdale argues that we need to shed preconceptions, "lower our lofty ideals," and engage students as they are, not as we imagine or wish them to be. Everyone involved in higher education--professors, administrators, student affairs professionals--should read "The First Year Out."
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J.&V. Grisham on May 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
A very enjoyable read that dispels many of our myths about what goes on during that first year of college. Dr. Clydesdale's book is both scholarly and fun, and we finished the book feeling like we had a much better understanding of the complexity of the lives of "real" teens. His central thesis, that teens' values are not so much undermined as they are underutilized, is very useful. Specifically, his research demonstrates an interesting pattern by which students come to college with a given religious identity and values, then store these in what he calls an "identity lockbox," where they remain for the duration of their college years both unchallenged and unaccessed. This is a remarkable and important insight, and provides readers with a powerful tool for understanding the lives of first year students. As Christian workers and non-specialists we found this book very accessible and would recommend it to anyone who works with teens.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Daniel W. Crofts on May 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
Tim Clydesdale's book, The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens After High School (University of Chicago Press, 2007) demands the close attention of all who teach at the post-secondary level. The author, a sociologist, has interviewed in depth a large cohort of high school seniors and college freshmen. He seeks to understand how they see themselves--and how they see the role of course-related study in their lives.

Clydesdale has discovered many things that college and university faculty may find challenging and even upsetting. He finds most students "culturally inoculated against intellectual curiosity and creative engagement." They are preoccupied instead by the pursuit of "happiness and fulfillment" through "personal relationships and individual consumption."

While Clydesdale strips away illusions, he also provides a foundation from which to rethink the ways that faculty might better approach students. This book is academic social science at its best. Everyone who teaches at the college or university level should read The First Year Out.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By anonymous on May 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
I found this book incredibly interesting and I think it is useful for a wider audience than just fellow sociologists, a true work of "public sociology". From the vantage-point of a relatively recent alumni of a high school very similar to the pseudonymous "NJ High" and a current scholar/educator, I think it will be interesting, engaging, and useful for all scholars, educators, parents and teens (hopefully some will read this work it even if not required of them). I do think my somewhat insider-status gives me a bit of authority to say that Clydesdale's work was extremely insightful and his observations and perceptions were right on. I couldn't help but think of my own position while reading the book, not far removed from the teen years under discussion, but also finding myself in the early years of "intelligentsia" and scholarship as a current PhD candidate.

While reading, I caught myself looking back and trying to place myself into the framework set out by Clydesdale, and the roles of my own family, faith and community. The themes of students' love of learning being dulled by boredom, complacency, and being unchallenged in school were true not only of myself but large numbers of my fellow teenage students. I was not at the level of "future intelligentsia" of say a "Rob Robertson" while in high school or even my first year out, so I may be an example of Clydesdale's theory that the second and third years of college offer an opportunity to broaden perspectives and engage interests.

I was also able to read this work as someone who is just starting to work with teens from the other side of the discussion, teaching and engaging with primarily first and second year university students in and out of the classroom.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jane S. Shaw on March 15, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tim Clydesdale gives us a forthright and candid description of college students today -- a dose of reality that I hope will help faculty members communicate more effectively with their students. Today's freshmen do not seek to understand Aeschylus or John Stuart Mill -- but they are savvy and practical. Faculty who can reach them "where they are" will be much better teachers and will help those students move toward maturity and even intellectual engagement. Clydesdale offers some advice on how to achieve that level of communication.
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