Young adults' perceptions of their school years: Gaining insights into the complexities of identified factors related to future academic choices

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Franc, Julie
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The process of completing high school or its, alternative dropping out, is impacted by a variety of factors that could be a part of an individual’s psychological processes, psychosocial influences, or both. The outcome of these two processes can affect a person’s academic, personal, and professional lives and ultimately the transition to adulthood which can impact later productivity (Pagani et al., 2008). Lucio, Hunt, and Bornovalova (2011) believe that educational achievement is a consequence of multi-dimensional interacting variables including family, community, school, peers, and the individuals themselves. This creates a complicated web of interconnecting and overlapping variables that have been directly and indirectly associated with academic success and failure. Those variables, which have been connected to educational outcomes, have been explored through many studies that have used a quantitative approach but there are limited studies that have explored them through individuals’ perceptions of school experience. Therefore, there is a need in the literature to gain insights into individuals’ perceptions of their schooling experience. The purpose of this study is to gain insights into the lived experiences of youth who have completed high school but did not pursue a post-secondary education. This study explored the perceptions of youth who did not pursue or did not complete post-secondary education. This qualitative approach values the lived experiences of youth and gives recognition to their voices. It is hoped that this research will help to expand knowledge and understanding of issues that influence educational decisions on the part of students, and could ultimately contribute to the improvement of services that which a teacher, school psychologist, guidance counsellor, and other professionals can plan for and provide. Participants in this study were four young adults from a rural area in eastern Canada: two males and two females ranging from 19 to 23 years of age. Qualitative methodology was used for the research design and each participant completed a semi-structured interview. Grounded theory methods were used to analyze the data. Four themes emerged from the data. These themes were: individual factors, made up of values, attitudes and student engagement; support factors, indicated by parental and teacher support; contextual factors influenced by academic and social organization; and decisions and reflections, constituted by the concepts of familiarity and reflection. These four themes provide a way of conceptualizing how young adults perceive their time in schools and how those perceptions may influence future academic decisions.
Youth education , Post-secondary education , Educational Choices