Passion and Pragmatism: Factors Affecting Career Decision-Making of Underrepresented Students at Selective Colleges

Vickerman, Jessica [Browse]
Senior thesis


Massey, Douglas S. [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Sociology [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
Students who have historically been underrepresented in higher education are increasingly visible at elite higher education institutions. Composed of racial minorities, first generation college students, and low-income students, this group of students faces unique challenges as they navigate an unfamiliar environment. Research on underrepresented students traditionally focuses on increasing access to higher education and providing adequate support during the first year to bolster retention and graduation rates. Consequently, current research links the importance of the first year of college to outcomes for underrepresented students. However, this focus overlooks the contexts in which students make decisions that determine their outcomes. This thesis utilizes a multimethod approach to assess four influences on the decision-making behaviors of underrepresented students at selective colleges: financial situation, self-efficacy, mentorship, and job search behaviors. The findings indicate that underrepresented students struggle with certain aspects of career-related decision-making, and that more research is needed on the obstacles these students encounter.

Supplementary Information