Early Adolescents' Understandings of College and Career Readiness Conceptually and in Relation to Their Own Lives
AuthorHill, Kathleen Alice
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A major focus in the K-12 education system today is preparing students to not only graduate high school, but to enter and succeed in a postsecondary education. As part of this movement, many researchers have attempted to understand the factors that indicate whether a student is prepared for postsecondary education; this is also known as college and career readiness (CCR). Yet, what is lacking in the literature is a focus on the student perspective regarding CCR. This research attempted to fill that gap by investigating how students understand CCR conceptually, and in relation to their own lives. In order to answer this question, a qualitative, longitudinal study was conducted using a constructivist grounded theory approach to data collection and analysis. Forty-four students were recruited and interviewed five times over the course of two and half years in order to gauge their understandings of CCR. Findings indicate that 17 students were able to align their academic performance and aspirations in a way that indicated CCR, while 27 were not yet articulating an alignment of academic and performance and aspirations. Within the first group, 8 students felt the need to be the best, while 9 knew that school was important, but it was not the most important aspect of their lives. Of those in the second group, 11 were still exploring their future, 11 were not ready to explore the future, and 5 felt that they were misunderstood and engaged in constant conflict. The discussion and implications for practice focus on self-determination theory, building purpose, creating student empowerment, and the timing of career counseling.