Speed Bumps on the Way to a Career: How Rejection Shapes Decisions of College Students
University of Kansas
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
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The purpose of this study was to understand how undergraduate students manage the barrier of being denied admission to a School of Education at a particular university, how they make career choices, and how they come to understand their decisions. Marcia (1966) and Josselson's (1987) identity development statuses, Baxter Magolda's (2000) development of self-authorship, and the Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994, 1996), were used as theoretical frameworks to examine and describe college students' career decision making processes. A basic qualitative design was utilized to collect data from participants. Eight students who were denied admission to a large, Midwestern, research university's teacher preparation program agreed to an interview for this study. These interviews were used to create cases to describe their perspectives of the denial decision and how they understood their career options. Themes across cases identify a reciprocal relationship between identity and cognitive development levels and how these influence career decision making. How interests, choices, and goals develop prior to a career barrier is explored, as well as decision making following a barrier. This study focused on an objectively defined barrier to students achieving career goals which differs from research on perceived career barriers. A variety of responses emerged to the objective barrier based on the student's development, however, all participants maintained an interest in teaching. Implications from this study exist for higher education as well as for alternative certification programs.
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