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26-10-2019 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 2/2020

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 2/2020

Adolescents’ Future Aspirations and Expectations in the Context of a Shifting Rural Economy

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 2/2020
Erin Hiley Sharp, Jayson Seaman, Corinna Jenkins Tucker, Karen T. Van Gundy, Cesar J. Rebellon
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Adolescents’ future aspirations and expectations influence the decisions they make as they transition into adulthood. However, less is known about how specific sociocultural factors interact with the formation of future aspirations and expectations and their association with goal attainment in emerging adulthood. The present study begins to fill this gap by using person-centered analysis with high school students (N = 517; 53% female; 92% white) from a rural county undergoing significant economic transition. Its aim was to identify future orientation profiles based on adolescent-reported future aspirations and expectations for success in both education and career. Four latent profiles were identified and labeled: universally high aspirations and expectations; low college aspirations and expectations; lower aspirations than expectations; and universally low aspirations and expectations. Significant gender differences were found. High school males were less likely to be in the universally high profile and more likely to be in the universally low and low college aspirations and expectations profiles. Future orientation profile placement was associated with differences in adolescent experiences in family, school, and community contexts as well as their work and education status and future residential aspirations in emerging adulthood. The findings inform future research and applied efforts focused on rural youth’s preparation for adult roles, and on retaining rural youth, a necessity for the vitality of rural communities.

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