What It Means To Be 18

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What It Means To Be 18

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2001 babies, this year is YOUR year, the year of an important milestone: turning 18. Congratulations! You are now recognized, by law, as an adult. Exciting, isn’t it? Well, turning 18 isn’t just about that “age of maturity”, but it’s also the age where you, all by yourself, can take full control of where you live, what you do, and how you shape your future. And how is that so? Well, this article will help you, the legal adult, understand what you can and CAN’T do at 18.

First thing you’ve got to understand is that the age 18 wasn’t always considered the age of maturity. In fact, as evident in history, the age of maturity was defined as the age of 21. However, this age of maturity was changed to 18 in July of 1971. The reason? Well, Franklin D. Roosevelt had lowered the military draft age to 18 during World War II as a means of obtaining more soldiers. But, with this lowered age for the draft, there was a push for the voting age to align with it. Thus, the 26th Amendment, the amendment that made age 18 the age of maturity, was signed into law by President Nixon in 1971.

So what changes when you turn 18? As an 18 year old, you can move out and rent your own apartment (yay, freedom!), take charge of your own finances by entering into binding contracts (i.e. leases, opening bank accounts, applying for loans), marry without the written consent of parents or guardians (young love), and vote (Bernie 2020?). Gosh, doesn’t 18 sound so fun and free? And, while it is, there are consequences that come with your new responsibilities.

When you become a legal adult, your parents no longer HAVE to support you, and you are held responsible for your own actions. This means that you are in charge of paying for your own income taxes, purchasing your own car insurance, and, if you have committed a crime, you will be charged as an adult. No longer will you have the protection of the juvenile court and laws; jail could be your new home. Also, if you are a U.S. male citizen, or a male immigrant currently living in the U.S., you must register with the Selective Service System within 30 days of turning 18. If you don’t, you will not be eligible for federal student aid, federal job training, or a federal job. You can even be prosecuted and face a fine of up to $250,000 and/or jail time of up to five years.

So, yes, turning eighteen is one of the biggest milestones of your life. But, understand that it’s not just all fun and games with this “age of maturity”. There are also responsibilities that you need to own up to and consequences for your actions. Eighteen means more than just being identified as an adult.

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