Date of Completion

12-18-2011

Embargo Period

1-2-2012

Open Access

Open Access

Abstract

There are striking disparities in the academic achievement of American youth, with Latino and Black adolescents attaining higher education at vastly lower rates than White adolescents. Though numerous reasons exist for these educational disparities this study examines possible selves as they may relate to educational achievement among Latinos. Specifically, this study investigates: a) racial/ethnic differences in the content and themes of expected possible selves held by young adolescents; b) within group differences among Latino students and their expected possible selves; c) racial/ethnic differences in the relation between higher education possible selves and current mental health adjustment. Written responses reflecting types of expected possible selves held by 375 racially/ethnically diverse ninth graders projecting 5 years into the future were coded into 13 academically, career, and socially oriented categories. As in previous studies, most common responses included academic and higher education selves as well as specific career, regardless of race. Logistic regression, used to compare Latino responses to those of Black and White youth, demonstrated several racial/ethnic differences particularly with regards to rates of higher education, own family, individuation, materialistic, and unrealistic possible selves. No within group differences were found among Latino students. MANOVA showed a significant interaction [F=3.67 (4, 654) p=.006] between higher education possible self and emotional distress and depression. Specifically, having a higher education self was related to having a more positive emotional adjustment for Black and White youth but a more negative emotional adjustment for Latino youth. Clinical implications for educators and mental health workers are discussed.

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