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Friends and futures : young people, their friends and their higher education choices

Friends and futures : young people, their friends and their higher education choices
Friends and futures : young people, their friends and their higher education choices

This research explores the role of friends and peers in young people's higher education (HE) choices. Drawing on a longitudinal study of fifteen students at a sixth form college in the south of England, this thesis demonstrates that HE decisions were rarely discussed with friends. It argues that while a majority of students may tell at least some of their friends where they are planning to apply and for what subject, previous quantitative work in this area masks both the complexity of the process of talking about HE choices with friends and the often problematic nature of such discussions. It goes on to suggest that the young people chose not to engage in discussions about HE decisions, not out of a positive choice, but because such discussions were often extremely difficult. Many of these difficulties stemmed from the hierarchical judgements that the young people made about differences (particularly those concerned with academic attainment, higher education institution and degree subject). Such judgements served, in many cases, to undermine the perceived equality of the friendship tie, or at least to emphasise previously latent differences, and for this reason were avoided. It does not, however, necessarily follow from this that friends do not have much influence over young people's HE decisions. Indeed, this thesis also explores the ways in which friends and peers were influential. Friends and the wider peer group provided the context in which young people came to construct a 'hierarchy of students'. Through social and academic comparisons with other young people, they came to work out their own place on this emerging hierarchy. This allowed students to map their own position relative to their peers onto a similar ranking of universities and, thus, to decide which institutions represented a 'feasible' choice.

University of Southampton
Brooks, Rachel Mary
Brooks, Rachel Mary

Brooks, Rachel Mary (2002) Friends and futures : young people, their friends and their higher education choices. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This research explores the role of friends and peers in young people's higher education (HE) choices. Drawing on a longitudinal study of fifteen students at a sixth form college in the south of England, this thesis demonstrates that HE decisions were rarely discussed with friends. It argues that while a majority of students may tell at least some of their friends where they are planning to apply and for what subject, previous quantitative work in this area masks both the complexity of the process of talking about HE choices with friends and the often problematic nature of such discussions. It goes on to suggest that the young people chose not to engage in discussions about HE decisions, not out of a positive choice, but because such discussions were often extremely difficult. Many of these difficulties stemmed from the hierarchical judgements that the young people made about differences (particularly those concerned with academic attainment, higher education institution and degree subject). Such judgements served, in many cases, to undermine the perceived equality of the friendship tie, or at least to emphasise previously latent differences, and for this reason were avoided. It does not, however, necessarily follow from this that friends do not have much influence over young people's HE decisions. Indeed, this thesis also explores the ways in which friends and peers were influential. Friends and the wider peer group provided the context in which young people came to construct a 'hierarchy of students'. Through social and academic comparisons with other young people, they came to work out their own place on this emerging hierarchy. This allowed students to map their own position relative to their peers onto a similar ranking of universities and, thus, to decide which institutions represented a 'feasible' choice.

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Published date: 2002

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 464757
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/464757
PURE UUID: 38810b37-f127-41e2-9f13-4fa66690de30

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Date deposited: 04 Jul 2022 23:59
Last modified: 05 Jul 2022 03:04

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Contributors

Author: Rachel Mary Brooks

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