Thesis

Influences on Jewish adolescent's occupational choice

Occupational decisions by adolescents are based largely on certain influential elements found within the family and school environments. Those elements examined in this survey are: l) parental pressure and influence; 2) family status; 3) sibling influence; 4) teacher and counselor influence; 5) peer pressure, and 6) school curriculum. How and to what extent adolescents perceive these elements as influential in their career aspirations was the objective of this survey. In the design of this study it was surmised that values and behavior patterns will vary according to background features such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status and religion. Since adolescent family experience varies accordingly, distinctions in adolescent behavior were likely to be found within the Jewish culture. Past studies in this area seem to support the contention of this study: In the Jewish family parental and family pressure for high educational achievement is significantly greater than in non-Jewish families. These studies also point to the mother as the most active influential agent within the family. For the purpose of this survey an 18-item questionnaire was devised, and administered to mandatory senior government and senior English classes in a large, suburban high school, approximately one third Jewish, located in Los Angeles. A total population of 50 Jewish respondents was obtained. The results of the survey indicate that the family envi~ ronment has a significantly greater influence upon the adolescent's career choice than the school environment. One area of the study which proved inconsistent with past studies dealt with parental pressure and influence. In other studies adolescents perceived their mothers as exercising a greater influence than fathers. The results of this study showed that, to a small degree, the father exerts a stronger influence than the mother. The results, also, only slightly support the hypothesis that the Jewish family's influence on the adolescents occupational aspirations would score significantly high. The most critical discovery of this study clearly points to the lack of rapport between student and counselor at a most crucial time for the graduating adolescent. Whether this phenomenon exists at one school only or is representative of high schools in general is an area requiring further exploration.

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