14 SES 03 A, School-Related Transitions Within a Life Course Perspective I
The end of compulsory school can be a difficult moment of transition and crises for adolescents (Anderson, Jacobs, Schramm, Splittgerber, 2000; Hviid & Zittoun, 2008). In Southern-Swiss educational system, compulsory school ends with the 9th grade (last year of middle school). For those who intend to pursue upper secondary education, three main possibilities are offered: an academic education in baccalaureate schools, a vocational education and training (VET) in full-time vocational schools and a VET which is made partially in a vocational school and partially in a company (i.e. the apprenticeship). This last option implies the need to find an employer.
Due to this set of options, adolescents have to make a more (for those who chose the apprenticeship) or less (for those who chose baccalaureate schools) specific career choice since the age of fourteen (Hirschi, 2009, 2011). Worries and fears could then arise, mostly due to the fact that the future he/her will face is still “unknown”.
Some individuals cope easily with those periods, whereas others live badly transitions and the identity changes related to them (Hirschi, 2010; Zittoun & Perret-Clermont, 2002).
The actual situation in Canton Ticino, as in the others Swiss Cantons, leads an increasingly number of adolescents to attend the so-called “bridge-year-courses” or to begin schools and apprenticeships that they will soon abandon (Marcionetti, Calvo, & Donati, 2014; OFS, 2010). Considering the specificities of Southern Swiss educational system, some questions related to this topic will be analyzed in the present paper: Do Southern-Swiss adolescents fear the end of compulsory school and the beginning of an upper secondary education? Are there adolescents who are more worried or feared compared to others? For instance, are there differences between girls and boys? Do adolescents arrive at the end of compulsory school with a defined career choice? Is lower career indecision associated with fewer worries about the imminent transition and a better life satisfaction?
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