02 SES 05 C, VET Dropout and Completion
The current economic situation in the EU and particularly in Portugal makes investment in human capital crucial for fostering any recovery in the economy. Dropout is a heavy economic burden and a loss of human capital investment.
The present Portuguese government has given the fight against dropout priority, in particular that between Upper Secondary and Higher Education. An analysis of who is dropping out is essential in identifying high-risk students and its main determinants. This helps the clarification of the dropout process and is a first step in designing effective strategies to reduce it.
In this paper we want to find answers to questions about the main factors that drive dropout focusing in the transition between Upper Secondary and Higher Education. There is a huge literature about dropout in Secondary and Higher Education but fewer focuses in the transition between the two. Following previous research in the field we look to the impact of individual characteristics, family socio-economic background, and previous school trajectory but will also take in consideration the comparison between the expectations before and after Upper Secondary conclusions.
Portugal is a country with big differences between the more developed seaside and the less developed interior regions. So we analyze the differences in dropout proportion between seaside and interior regions.
Because dropout rates are much higher among students who have followed vocational training courses than among those who followed scientific or humanistic courses the differences in the characteristics of those two groups will be analyzed too.
There is a huge literature about dropout in Higher Education but less focuses in the transition period. Literature about this topic examines the main determinants that affect access to Higher Education, mainly previous school trajectory and financial aid. Less discussed are ways to get and levels of information about Higher Education institutions and studying challenges they will have to face.
It was found that gender and race [Ingels et al. (2002), Cross & Slater (2002)] are persistent have impact on Higher Education access. Some studies, found that High School track, academic performance and social support are strong predictors of college entry. Family socio economic background is another powerful predictor of dropout. High School students from poor social origins are discouraged from even considering access to Higher Education and have less information about financial aid opportunities. Dropout in the transition is surely driven by affordability but also by the lower expectations less educated parents for their children. Besides they don’t know how to prepare their children for Higher Education challenges. Mismatch between information and expectations regarding degree and college choice turns Secondary to Higher Education transition more difficult.
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 Cabrera & La Nasa (2001), Cabrera et al. (2003), Flint (1997), Glen (2204), Walpole(2003), Terenzine, P., et al.(2001).
 Rosenbaum & Person (2003)
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