What's wrong with "I don't know?" : an analysis of the characteristics and experiences of high school students with career uncertainty
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Results from the nationally representative Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) show that 47% of high school students experience career uncertainty either in 10th or 12th grade. Thus when uncertainty in the career decision-making process is ignored, the needs of almost half of high school students are not being understood or addressed. Career and psychological development theorists explain career uncertainty by describing it as an appropriate stage along the way to career maturity and identity formation, while career counseling and education interventions try to "diagnose" uncertainty, suggesting uncertainty is a problem that may prevent young adults from making economically savvy career decisions. This paper applies logistic regression and OLS regression to data from ELS:2002 to examine the characteristics, experiences, and achievement levels of students reporting career uncertainty. Integrating career development and policy research with a more complete picture of the student population in question will help schools better support students through high school and as they enter the workforce. The results show that uncertain students are more likely to be male, more likely to be Hispanic or Asian, less likely to be Black, more likely to be from a higher socioeconomic status, more likely to have lower education expectations, and less likely to have discussed the future with their parents and/or have paid work experience. Additionally, student achievement was not significantly related to career uncertainty, suggesting that there is no short-term detrimental impact from career uncertainty.
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