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Dr. Jay speaks at CCCC professional development program

Click to enlarge,  Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist and author who specializes in young adult development, spoke to a professional development gathering on March 9 at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center for Central Carolina Community College faculty and staff.

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Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist and author who specializes in young adult development, spoke ... (more)

03.19.2017Admin, Faculty & StaffCollege & CommunityCollege General

SANFORD - Though many people don't think of twentysomethings as facing such a critical stage of life, what happens during those years actually has an enormous impact on their future success, according to Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist and author who specializes in young adult development.

Her presentation was the keynote address for "Perspectives on Student Success," a professional development program on March 9 at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center for Central Carolina Community College faculty and staff.

Jay began by explaining how 80 percent of life's most defining moments happen before age 35, even though most young people never realize how important those moments are at the time.

That period of life is important for other reasons as well. Personality changes more during the 20s than at any other time, social networks are larger than they will ever be again and the brain is still developing aggressively.

In short, Jay said, what people do during their 20s will have a pivotal impact on what they'll eventually become.

"Developmentally, this is the sweet spot," she told about 300 people attending. "If you really want to change people -- if you really want to help people -- it's hard for me to think of a better time to engage with people than these years.

"And, I'll be honest here, you don't have to do that much to really have a big impact."

Jay has 15 years of experience studying this age group that comprises many students at the college. Her first book, "The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now," was a Best Book of 2012 selection by Slate.com. It details what psychologists, sociologists, neurologists, economists and reproductive specialists know about the unique power of the twentysomething years.

Drawing on that expertise, Jay urged her audience to interact with students often, since anyone at the college could provide one of those pivotal moments in life.

She said that's because young adults trying to get started need two things. One is an academic degree or a valuable skill -- something to get a foothold in the working world -- and the other is a good relationship to move everything forward.

Since faculty and staff offer the breadth of knowledge and experience that students don't usually have among their friends and family, they can provide those relationships that lead to success.

"One of the most valuable things you can do is just offer the expertise that you have," Jay said. Many of the questions following her presentation focused on how college staff can make that happen.

In addition to Jay's address, the three-hour session included speakers and roundtable discussions allowing faculty and staff to find ways to enhance student success, share some of those success stories and discuss how to integrate ideas into classrooms and student services.