What’s It Really Like To Be 18 In America Right Now?

“That’s When You Really Start Saying, Damn — I’m Going To Be An Adult”

Teens talk to KALW and Matter about feminism, depression, loss, and applying to college as an undocumented immigrant.

By Ninna Gaensler-Debs

Turning 18 is a big deal. You can rent an apartment, you can get a tattoo, you can vote, and perhaps most importantly, you’re legally recognized as an adult. You probably remember that moment yourself, but most everything else about being that age is changing fast, even in the past few years. So what’s it actually like to be 18 right now?

This spring, KALW producer Ninna Gaensler-Debs teamed up with a class of high school seniors in the Bay Area and Matter — the flagship magazine on Medium — to answer that question. Over the course of several weeks, students shared stories about where they grew up, how they navigated high school, their inspiration and their fears, hopes and dreams, and the experiences that shaped who they are today. You can find these stories here. This week, KALW will be sharing a handful of their perspectives on the air. You can tune in at 5 p.m. PST to listen or play each story on Soundcloud here.

An 18-year-old talks about the depression he’s struggled with throughout high school — and the event that helped him start to heal.

The High School Party That Changed This Student’s Life

How Karate Helps This 18-year-old Cope With High School Hardships

Growing Up Without Mom or Dad Around: How this young man raised himself in foster care

What It’s Like To Apply To College As An Undocumented Teen

Finding My Father’s Other Family… And discovering he’d given his first daughter my name.

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