Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study finds links between high schoolers' hopes, educational attainment

Turns out the high school guidance counselor was right. Students who have high aspirations and put thought into their futures during their high school years tend to reach higher levels of educational attainment, according to a recent study.

And what's a significant factor in those goals and expectations taking shape in the first place? It matters if teens are involved in extracurricular activities -- whether it's football, fine arts or French club.

The research, by Sarah Beal and Lisa Crockett of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, surveyed hundreds of high school students about their educational and career goals and expectations while also examining the types of activities they took part in during high school. Then researchers studied how each activity, from extracurricular clubs and teams to part-time jobs to volunteering, was related to students' thoughts about their futures.

They found that students' educational plans and their occupational goals and expectations were related to and predicted the level of education they ultimately attained. Also, extracurricular activities were related to students' educational goals and career expectations -- and vice-versa.

That unique relationship, the study says, played a role in predicting how far teens eventually went with their educations.

"Adolescents' expectations about their occupational and educational attainment as adults predict their eventual educational attainment, and these expectations seem to shape and be shaped by extracurricular activities -- which, in turn, contribute to young adult educational attainment," said Beal, a UNL graduate student in psychology and the study's lead author. "It may be the case that adolescents learn about their abilities and preferences through the extracurricular activities they engage in, resulting in changes to their expectations for the future."

The longitudinal study, which tracked students from adolescence into adulthood, appeared in a recent edition of the journal Developmental Psychology. It showed that what adolescents think about their futures is relevant for their development through adulthood, and suggests that they can use their projections about the future to adapt their behavior in ways that promote achievement later in life.

"There is a longstanding notion that what adolescents do sets the stage for their adult lives," said Crockett, a professor of psychology. "Our results support this idea and indicate that what they think matters as well."

What appears to happen, Crockett said, is that teenagers' plans influence their behaviors, especially extracurricular activities, which in turn influence their educational attainment.

"When you consider how important educational attainment is for adult life --- its relation to occupational attainment, financial security, health, and other aspects of well being -- it appears that the steps adolescents take have important implications for their future success," she said.

Also among the findings:

While the analysis suggested that extracurricular activities contributed to the process of forming teens' career goals and aspirations, having a part-time job during high school did not. It may be the case that adolescents simply consider after-school jobs as a way to earn spending money -- but not paths to their eventual careers.

Volunteering also was not a predictor of teens' goals and expectations, suggesting that volunteer experiences do not necessarily shape their career and educational goals.

The study made a clear distinction between teens' career aspirations (what job they hope to do some day) and their career expectations (what job they expect to do some day). While nearly eight in 10 teens reported aspirations and expectations that required similar levels of skills and training, two in 10 reported expectations and aspirations that implied different skill categories.

Unsurprisingly, destructive behaviors such as substance use and delinquency predicted lower educational attainment over time.

"It appears that ideas about one's future and behaviors influence each other over time," Crockett said. "Related questions are how ideas about one's future take shape initially and what things influence the kinds of long term plans and aspirations teenagers develop."

Other research indicates that factors such as gender, socioeconomic status and abilities are important, she said, "but we know very little about how children begin to formulate their ideas and how these ideas change over adolescence in response to their experiences and their increasing knowledge of their skills, interests and the opportunities available to them. This remains an important question for future research."

Lisa Crockett | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>