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Shooting for the Stars and Failing: College Dropout and Self-Esteem


Höschler, Peter; Backes-Gellner, Uschi (2017). Shooting for the Stars and Failing: College Dropout and Self-Esteem. Economics of Education Working Paper Series 100, University of Zurich.

Abstract

We investigate the relationship between unfulfilled educational aspirations and self-esteem. Clas- sifications of education relying on completed years of schooling or degree attainment are not able to distinguish between college dropouts with unfulfilled aspirations and graduates with fulfilled aspirations. To separate the two groups, we develop a classification of education combining the highest type of college enrolled in (aspiration) and the highest degree obtained (realization of as- piration). Using data spanning three decades from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we find that four-year college dropouts compared to graduates have permanently lower self-esteem, whether dropouts obtain an associate’s degree or not. However, associate’s degree holders who had never enrolled in a four-year college do not experience this long-term negative e↵ect. Therefore, finishing the highest type of college in which the student ever enrolled is critical for the formation of self-esteem. We discuss implications for college enrollment decisions.

Abstract

We investigate the relationship between unfulfilled educational aspirations and self-esteem. Clas- sifications of education relying on completed years of schooling or degree attainment are not able to distinguish between college dropouts with unfulfilled aspirations and graduates with fulfilled aspirations. To separate the two groups, we develop a classification of education combining the highest type of college enrolled in (aspiration) and the highest degree obtained (realization of as- piration). Using data spanning three decades from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we find that four-year college dropouts compared to graduates have permanently lower self-esteem, whether dropouts obtain an associate’s degree or not. However, associate’s degree holders who had never enrolled in a four-year college do not experience this long-term negative e↵ect. Therefore, finishing the highest type of college in which the student ever enrolled is critical for the formation of self-esteem. We discuss implications for college enrollment decisions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Business Administration
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:1 April 2017
Deposited On:28 Aug 2019 14:43
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:43
Series Name:Economics of Education Working Paper Series
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://repec.business.uzh.ch/RePEc/iso/leadinghouse/0100_lhwpaper.pdf
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:9951

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