When teenagers enter high school, they are faced with myriad decisions. Aside from the social choices of which behaviors they will adopt, which friends they will socialize with, and which clubs and sports they will participate in, they must also begin to address the question of post-high school plans. Few students have a clear idea of what profession or educational path they will pursue upon graduation, and most don’t even begin to explore these avenues until the second half of their high school experience. However, aspects related to career planning are important predictors of future adjustment.
Kate Stinger of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Auburn University recently conducted a study that measured how career confidence, planning, and indecision in high school affected young adults’ adjustment four and a half years later. Stinger evaluated 454 high school seniors for levels of self-actualization, emotional consistency, and social adjustment at the onset of her study. She then assessed those same domains relative to career indecision, confidence, and planning several years later and found that planning for a career in high school helps later social and emotional adjustment. Stinger also discovered that having confidence in career choice strongly indicated positive adjustment. Additionally, the participants with the highest levels of social adjustment exhibited the most confidence in their career choices.
Stinger also examined career indecision and noticed that the students with the highest levels of adjustment or career confidence had the lowest levels of career indecision. However, those that did have indecision did not have decreases in adjustment if they were confident in their ability to eventually achieve their professional goals. Planning emerged as a positive factor with respect to adjustment also, and Stinger believes that students may benefit from working with their peers to develop strategies for achieving their desired careers. Stinger points out that students must engage in activities related to the pursuit of their goals in order to reap the rewards of planning. Doing so will strengthen their confidence and increase their well-being in the long run. “Overall, our findings suggest that career confidence is essential to build as youths make the transition from high school to postsecondary education and/or work,” Stinger said.
Stringer, Kate, Jennifer Kerpelman, and Vladimir Skorikov. A longitudinal examination of career preparation and adjustment during the transition from high school. Developmental Psychology 48.5 (2012): 1343-354. Print.
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