With the Future at Risk. A Study of High School Seniors' Approach to the Choice of Further Education

Kathrine Asmussen Forsting

Student thesis: Master thesis


The main purpose of this thesis is to examine how senior high school students approach the choice of further education, and how this approach is influenced by socially created structures in society. With a primarily inductive approach to this study, the empirical research led to the theoretical choices, which were made afterwards. Firstly, 211 senior high school students from across the country participated in a survey regarding their experiences in relation to the choice of further education. On the basis of the survey, 12 respondents were selected to participate in a qualitative semi-structured interview. This, as well as different documents, provided the empirical foundation for the further analysis. The analysis applies institutional theory to identify and analyze the socially created structures and how they influence the individuals. In addition to this, social identity theory and theory of social categorization are applied to understand how identity and social categories play a role for the individuals as they act within and in relation to the socially created structures. The choice of education is a complex decision and involves heavy amounts of information and the respondents find it to be very difficult and struggle with making a decision. Four institutions are identified: education as a mean to and end, a perfection-oriented culture, the importance of making the right choice and the expectation of happiness. These institutions lead to three patterns in their approach to making a decision: focus on the future after finishing an education, the importance of choosing the right course of education in the first try and how further education is seen as a way to secure a happy future. The consequences of these tendencies as well as ways to deal with these are discussed both at an individual as well as a societal level.

EducationsMSc in Psychology, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages91