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Growth and Change Through the College Years

Most often, the young adult develops along each of these seven vectors simultaneously. For some individuals, certain tasks within the developmental framework assume higher priority and must be addressed in advance of other tasks. For example, a woman may need to free herself from dependent relationships before she can clarify her purpose, set personal and career goals, and establish her own identity.

More recently, McEwen and colleagues have suggested two additional vectors not part of Chickering’s original theory. These vectors are:

  • interacting with the dominant culture; and
  • developing spirituality.

Both of these tasks have become more significant in a young person’s development as our market-based culture threatens to turn us into mere consumers (“we are what we buy”). At the same time — and possibly in response to being defined by what we consume — we need to experience ourselves as spiritual beings, in touch with our spiritual centers and possessing inner peace.

Personal growth and interpersonal skills development are as much a part of the college experience as intellectual advancement and the mastery of work-related skills. By applying this framework to the student’s chosen pathway through the college years, both the student and his or her parents may be able to make more sense of this turbulent time in life and recognize it to be part of a process that will result in a consolidated sense of self with which to face the post-college period.


Chickering, A.W. (1969). Education and identity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McEwen, M.K., Roper, L.D., Bryant, D.R., & Langa, M.J. (1996). Incorporating the development of African-American students into psychosocial theories of student development. In F.K. Stage, A. Stage, D. Hossler, & G.L. Anaya (Eds.), College students: The evolving nature of research (pp. 217-226). Needham Heights, MA: Simon & Schuster.

Growth and Change Through the College Years

Rita Landino

Dr. Rita Landino is a retired faculty member and former counselor at Southern State Connecticut State University (SCSU). She has advanced degrees in English and counseling and now lives in North Haven, CT.

APA Reference
Landino, D. (2020). Growth and Change Through the College Years. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.