An open future: schooling experiences, academic difficulties and vocational dilemmas during the first year of university
In: Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 6
Completing a long educational path and reaching higher education means not only the chance to accede to the top of the educational system, but also the opportunity to attain a long-standing goal, for many of those who achieve it. However, that final stage of the educational trajectory far from being an arrival point may become a new point of departure instead. In fact, the first year at the university may turn into a probation experience, a period when past trajectories and future projects are re-assessed and vocational choices are tested, in a rather tensional way. The schooling experience (Dubet, 1996; Dubet e Martuccelli, 1996) is particularly critical in this period, as it involves different challenges the student has to cope: on one hand, integration (into a different academic environment, into new peer groups, into an unknown vocational domain…) must be successfully obtained; on the other hand, a strategic behaviour must be exercised at a certain point, since university experience exposes students to competition (academically and professionally, in a near future); and, finally, some sort of subjectivation inevitably emerges, every time the student confronts to himself by questioning his options and abilities. Preliminary results from an ongoing research study on “School failure and drop-out at the University of Lisbon” (financed by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation) confirm the probation and tensional nature the 1st year of university experience assumes. In this paper, we intend to explore analytically these issues by using data obtained from an extensive survey applied to first-year students who entered the University of Lisbon in school-year 2008/2009. This analysis aims to give new insights to understand failure and drop-out phenomena at higher education level, matching social and academic constraints with subjective quest for self-fulfilment.
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