"The Developmental Descriptives of Adolescents’ Career Aspiration Regarding Education Requirement Throughout Adolescence"
Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA) Biennial Meeting
April 12-14, 2018
Presentation Title: "The Developmental Descriptives of Adolescents’ Career Aspiration Regarding Education Requirement Throughout Adolescence" (poster)
Authors: Yannan Gao, Jacquelynne Eccles
Career aspirations can have important implications for adolescents’ academic and vocational development. Aspiring to a job requiring college education may motivate adolescents to strive for college enrollment―a motivation not only beneficial to the adolescents themselves, but also the labor market. This study uses longitudinal dataset to understand how adolescents’ career aspirations regarding the education requirement develops throughout adolescence.
1493 adolescents from the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study were interviewed on their career aspiration (“if you can have any job you want, what you job would you like to have when you grow up?”) in middle school (7th grade), high school (11th grade), and 3 years after high school. The open-ended responses were coded regarding its education requirement based on the U.S. Bureau of Census occupation classification system and the O*NET database. Jobs requiring a Bachelor’s or higher degree were coded as 1 (“college-educated jobs”), and jobs requiring less than a Bachelor’s degree (including an Associate’s degree, or some college education) were coded as 0 (“not college-educated jobs”). Responses whose education requirement could not be identified (e.g. general industry categories) were coded as unspecific responses. It needs to be noted that there was significant attrition across waves leading to an under-representation of white, female and students from lower socioeconomic status in the remaining sample.
To track the education requirement of students’ aspirations, a decision tree was drawn across the three waves. Chi-square test and decision tree analyses using SPSS will be conducted. At all time points, more students aspired to college-educated jobs than not college-educated jobs. Meanwhile, the percentage of students’ aspiring to college-educated jobs decreased as the participants grew older. Among students aspiring to college-educated jobs in middle school, they were most likely to persist in this aspiration in high school and continue after high school. This path was reported most often in the whole sample. Among students aspiring to not college-educated jobs in middle school, they were most likely to change to college-educated jobs in high school and to stick to this aspiration after high school. Among students with unspecific responses in middle school, a majority of them reported specific occupations in high school, with more of them aspiring to college-educated job than not college-educated jobs.
The decision tree portrayed the developmental trajectory of students’ career aspirations regarding its education requirement throughout adolescence. From 11th grade to 3 years after high school, more students persisted their aspiration than switching to any other categories. However, this pattern is not observed from 7th to 11th grade. This finding may point to the unique role of the time span from 7th to 11th grade in the formation of career aspiration. Future studies need to investigate how the socio-economic background of students influences the nature and development of the education requirement associated with their career aspirations.