Monday, 12 November 2012

Teenage expectations of going to university: the ebb and flow of influences from 14 to 18

an article by Mandy Teresa Winterton (Edinburgh Napier University, UK) and and Sarah Irwin (University of Leeds, UK) published in Journal of Youth Studies Volume 15 Issue 7 (November 2012)


The expansion of higher education in the UK has been accompanied by ongoing class-related inequalities in expectations about, and access to, university.

In the context of detailed research into middle-class and working-class experiences and difference, there have been calls for more detailed analysis of internal class diversity, and for complicating the class dichotomy.

This is particularly important for understanding the experiences of prospective first generation students. Drawing on data from an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded study, this article offers a qualitative longitudinal analysis of young people’s expectations about going to university, as these evolve over the teenage years, from 14 to 18.

We analyse the experiences and expectations of young women with different parental class and educational backgrounds.
We explore the interplay of parental expectations, school, teacher and friendship group influences through the teenagers’ biographies.

The qualitative longitudinal analysis offers valuable insights into how different influential processes intersect and play out for those with different backgrounds and circumstances, shaping expectations in divergent ways. As such it contributes to a more processual account of the structuring of social inequality in higher education expectations.

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