Background Most young carer studies on parentification, resilience and coping concentrated on child carers up to age 18 years, whereas the group of young adult caregivers (18–24 years) has been neglected. In our study, we focused on these young adult caregivers, who are in a life phase in which young people usually are distancing themselves from their families and are striving for autonomy and freedom. Aim To explore young adult carers’ perceptions of parentification, resilience and coping compared to young adult noncarers. Design Cross‐sectional. Methods In 2014/2015, data were collected on 297 healthcare students from a school for vocational education and a university in the Netherlands. A fully structured questionnaire was used. Young adult carers were compared with young adult noncarers on parentification, resilience and coping. Results Fifty‐six students identified themselves as a carer: 40 vocational education students and 16 university students. Carers scored significantly higher than noncarers on three out of six parentification dimensions. No differences were found for resilience and problem‐focused coping behaviour, whereas results for emotion‐focused coping demonstrated a higher score for the carers compared to the noncarers. Conclusion Although it is important to take care of the needs of all young carers, special attention should be given to those who are at the start of their adult lives, undergoing extensive changes and taking major decisions on study and career issues. Home‐care professionals and school counsellors should be able to recognise this group and their needs and activate support from specialised services and significant others.