Writing Prompt 1

Texts: Robin Marantz Henig’s “What Is It about 20-Somethings?”

Thomas King’s “Adults, we need to have the talk”


In “What is It About 20-Somethings?” Henig considers the argument for creating a new life stage called “emerging adulthood.” Meanwhile, Thomas King’s TEDx talk, “Adults, we need to talk,” complicates Henig’s essay by suggesting that the traditional life narrative Henig uses to frame the life stage “emerging adulthood” may be no longer relevant. Where does that leave 20-somethings?

How might society and/or the individual benefit if, like adolescence, emerging adulthood was officially acknowledged as a life stage? How might society and/or the individual lose? Please use both Henig and King to write a five-page paper analyzing the cost and benefits of labeling and otherwise embracing the emerging adult life phase.


This prompt is intended to inspire and get you started. Please use the parameters as you find them helpful. It is often better to focus on a specific angle or aspect. For example, you could write an essay that argues that labeling an individual as an “emerging adult” would do more harm than good. (Or vice versa) Or you could argue that our society as a whole would benefit from the label. You could focus on economic cost-benefit, only. There’s no right answer and no right approach. Try to choose an angle that interests you, if not excites you.

 Remember: Use the texts to support your arguments, but don’t forget to drive! This is your paper, your voice in the conversation. Try to approach Henig’s essay and King’s talk as raw materials. It’s your job to make something new.