What Can You Do When You Turn 18? Rights & Responsibilities

Abhijeet Modi
Oct 17, 2023 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Oct 25, 2021
Asian high school talking and using social media.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.2 Min

When you turn 18, you officially become an adult as you have attained the legal age and are eligible for jury duty.

Turning 18 is a big milestone in a person's life. We enter adulthood and the gates to exciting opportunities and adventures are opened wide.

Being 18 means that a person is officially an adult. Many 18-year-olds look forward to the exhilarating sense of freedom that their 18th birthday brings.

This is the time when most students graduate from high school. We all know that high school life is very exciting and full of fun.

Most high school students crave freedom and turning 18 seems like the perfect opportunity for it.

18 is the age that most of us look forward to when it comes to new adventures and experiences. Most students in the United States apply and leave for college and universities after graduating from school.

It is common for students to start working part-time jobs and internships to gain some experience or simply earn some extra money. A lot of teens opt to join military services.

There can be many reasons for a student to join the military service.

Some do it to simply serve their nation, some do it to participate in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps straight from high school or college, while some do it to simply hold a family legacy. Besides, serving in the military also provides educational and other benefits to a person.

The selective service is the agency that maintains a record of all eligible men between the age of 18 - 25 who are able to join the military. It is compulsory for all men to register for selective services.

Failing to do so can lead to a hefty fine.

Even though currently it is not mandatory for a person to serve in the military, the state can reinstate the draft in case of a national emergency.

Some of the most exciting things that teenagers want to try after becoming an adult are to apply for credit cards, get a car, go for piercing, purchasing fireworks, or even file a lawsuit.

After you are done reading about all that you can do after turning 18, do read why do we say the pledge of allegiance and why do we have laws.

Smart Things To Do When You Turn 18

As you reach this milestone, it is understandable that you feel extremely free and want to run away from parental control. Fun experiences and adventures are all lined up on this journey for a person who has just turned 18.

As important as these adventures and experiences are, here are some smart things that you should do as soon as you come of age. You will surely find them to be useful later in life.

It does not matter if you are doing a small part-time job or simply getting paid to help your father with his work. It is beneficial because this small experience will teach you about hard-earned money and how to manage it. This will make you humble.

Opening a bank account is a very basic thing and you should do it without delay. It is important to start building your credit score by applying for a credit card. A good credit score will help you a lot with bank and mortgage situations. Furthermore, it also brings many other perks along with it.

Clear all credit on a monthly basis. Spend below your means and don’t spend the money that you do not have. Aim to live a debt-free life. You will surely thank me later.

When it comes to benefiting from investing time, really does matter. The earlier you start the better it is. Since you are very young and just starting out you are not accountable for a large amount of taxes.

Open a brokerage account and start making small investments. Hold these investments for a long-term period for minimum risks and assured profits. There is no way you can beat inflation with all your savings in a bank account.

Even if you are investing nearly $100 every month it will prove to be useful in the long run. Just be consistent. You will see the magic of compounding in the next 10 - 15 years.

Disclaimer: It is very easy to make losses on investment if you are not well educated about the market and how things work. Always do proper research and never invest your emergency funds. Only invest the money that you can afford to lose.

'Never test the depth of a river with both feet.'

It may not seem like a top priority for an 18-year-old. It might also seem like quite an expense. However, in today’s environment, it is always better to be sure than sorry.

Everybody needs some sort of medical assistance, at least once in their lifetime. It is only inevitable. Being prepared can help you save your life and prevent you from going into thousands of dollars worth of debt.

Learning never stops. With turning 18, oftentimes we side-line these things and focus only on partying and having fun.

It is important to remember that everything needs to be balanced. You should invest some part of your time and resources in learning and developing useful skills. These will not only improve your personal brand but also can be useful in this journey of life.

At this raw age, people and adventures come around easily. Use these opportunities to connect with people. Build meaningful relationships and nurture them. Choose your circle wisely.

Find like-minded people and mentors to learn from. Build a widespread network of people from whom you can give and take during your lifetime. Add value to their life and yours. It is a two-way deal. This will get you access to a lot of opportunities and help that you could not have even think of otherwise.

Let's list out all the other things you can do when you turn 18.

Become an organ donor.

Called for jury duty.

Donate blood.

Register with selective service.

Buy spray paint.

File a lawsuit to sue someone.

Apply for a credit card/ Open a bank account.

Buy a car.

Get married.

Book a hotel.

Buy fireworks.

Purchase tobacco products.

Get a tattoo or a piercing.

Free from parental supervision.

Sign documents.

Drink alcohol.

Smoke cigarettes.

Purchase a house.

Two girls having a conversation on sofa

What are the responsibilities of an 18-year-old?

Turning 18 comes with its own set of responsibilities that you must not ignore.

As an 18-year-old, you are now an adult by law. This means you are eligible to vote. Voting is a huge power vested in us as the citizens of a democratic nation. It is our duty to make use of our voting rights wisely. Make sure to register and vote in the next elections.

Driving is an important life skill that all individuals should be well versed in. It can help you in everyday life and can be extremely useful in case of emergencies.

With entering adulthood, you are legally responsible for all your actions. It is important to maintain a clean record as a responsible citizen, in order to avoid getting into problematic situations and drama in the future.

18-year-olds are responsible for jury duties and taxation. You have to appear in front of the jury if called upon. You also have to pay taxes depending on your financial situation, income, and student status.

It makes no difference however much we say that money doesn’t matter. But the truth is, that in the real world, it does matter a lot. Now I’m not telling you to burn the midnight oil and toil for long hours and not enjoy your life.

But as an adult, you should be able to support yourself at least. Learn about saving, investing, taxes, and how money works in general. Work towards achieving financial independence.

What happens when you turn 18 legally?

Since you are no longer a child, it is important to learn about the legal aspects of turning 18.

You are now officially a free individual. You can move out of your parent’s house. You are eligible to vote, buy real estate, sign contracts, inherit property, travel alone, and get a driver’s license among many other things.

You can even get married in most states. These are just the bright sides but the frightening reality also includes some of the not-so-exciting situations. Since you are now responsible for all your actions you can also be put behind the bars, sued, lose financial stability.

Things You Cannot Do Before You Turn 18

There are a lot of things that you cannot do before you turn 18. The smoking and drinking age in the United States is 21 years. So you must avoid doing these things.

You are also not allowed to purchase tobacco, gamble, purchase and hold handguns. You must avoid getting involved with an adult whether it is physically or romantically. Because the law does not care if it's consensual, it can put the other person in jail because you are still a minor and it is considered an offense.

We have talked about the smart and responsible things to do as 18-year-olds. We have also learned about our responsibilities and rights. But turning 18 is not so glum. After all, it is the beginning of a new chapter in life. I welcome you to adulthood.

Here are a few things that you can do as an 18-year-old.

Get a tattoo and piercings.

Buy a lottery ticket.

Drink responsibly.

Travel alone and explore the world.

Donate blood.

Register as an organ donor.

Go to festivals, concerts and explore life.

Unleash your artistic side and experiment with hobbies and interests.

Follow law.

Start fresh and find yourself.

Be kind to everyone.

Fix your bad habits.

Get out of your comfort zone and take risks.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what can you do when you turn 18 then why not take a look at why do we need elections, or why do we need a government.

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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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