Preparing for Adulthood: A Recent Examination of the Alignment of Rural Youth’s Future Educational and Vocational Aspirations

Judith L. Meece, Bryan C. Hutchins, Soo-yong Byun, Farmer, T. W., Matthew J. Irvin, Margaret Weiss


Nearly nine million students attend public schools in rural areas but limited research has examined the aspirations of rural youth in the early years of the 21st century. This study presents a contemporary profile of rural youth’s educational and vocational aspirations and examines the educational alignment of reported aspirations. Using multinomial regression procedures, the study also examines the role of multiple contexts (family, individual, and school) in explaining variations in rural youth’s aspirations. The results indicated a majority of rural youth wanted to obtain a two- or four-year college degree, and they aspired to adulthood occupations requiring college degrees. More than half of the sample reported misaligned educational and vocational aspirations and patterns of alignment were predicted by family income, student background, geographic isolation, and school-related experiences. The results highlight the need for additional research on high school programs to prepare rural youth for the transition to adulthood.

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Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology   ISSN 1927-0526 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0534 (Online)

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