In the United States, minority students have lower high school graduation rates. This research was carried out to determine factors that influence seventh grade students' perceptions to complete high school, attend college and select a profession. A survey was conducted to determine whether their goals were influenced by factors such as gender, ethnicity and parental level of education. A total of 273 seventh grade students from a middle in Ventura, California, participated in this survey. From these 273, 211 students reported being very sure that they would graduate from high school, while 62 stated that they will most likely complete high school. This suggests that most of the students are optimistic that they will graduate from high school. Out of the 211 students who were very sure of graduating from high school, 96 were males and 115 were females. By ethnicity, 77 were Hispanic, 78 were White and 56 were "Other." Out of 273 students, 166 students stated that they were very sure they will pursue post-high school education; 76 believed that they will probably pursue a higher education. No female students stated that they would not graduate from high school. A higher percentage of females compared to males expressed their interest in attending college. From the students surveyed, 70% were clear of their future careers. Female students regardless of their first language were more certain than males of pursuing higher education. Professional careers were envisioned by 20% of Hispanic students and 25% of White students; 26% of male students and 31% female students respectively. Students' responses showed that 14% mother/female guardians and 16% father/male guardians have not graduated from high school. Data analysis showed that students' perceptions of graduating from high school were influenced by mother/female guardian's education, father/male guardian's profession, and whether or not the students are living with their parents. Enrollment in gifted classes, likeability of core subjects and participation in extracurricular activities were found significant.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Middle school students -- Attitudes; Dropouts -- Prevention; Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Weber, Margaret J.;