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Title:Not Your Usual Success Story: Young Women Achieve Academic Success Against the Odds
Author(s):McGinty, Suzanne Claire
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Peshkin, Alan
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Social Work
Women's Studies
Education, Guidance and Counseling
Education, Secondary
Abstract:This study sought to understand how young women with multiple stressors in their lives became academically successful at school. The author observed and interviewed five young women in a down state Illinois high school for one year. Each of them was recommended as successful by their teachers and peers because of their academic awards and/or their leadership achievements. All but one had grade point averages above 4.5 on a 5.0 scale. The young women experienced significant stressors in their lives, ranging from parental drug abuse and marital discord to physical and sexual abuse, personal depression, and frustration. Moreover, they worked long hours after school. Parents, teachers, and friends of the young women were also interviewed to situate the study in the contexts of family and school.
The study found the "agency of self" as an interactive protective factor in the contexts of family and school. The young women became successful by (a) taking control of their own education and being a leader at school; (b) channeling their stress and anger into education; (c) being mature; (d) being hard working perfectionists; (e) having the focus of commitment to academic success; (f) establishing idiosyncratic credit; and (g) seeking success-supporting relationships. Their parents believed education was important, their extended families provided a supportive social net, and their relationships with their parents made them autonomous, a strength which they transferred to their education. The young women worked the school for success by mastering the local school politics and tapping into the learning environment, including effective counseling services.
This research fills the gap of needed studies which crisscross contexts of family and school in seeking to understand how young women with multiple stressors become successful, rather than dropping out of school or settling for low academic performance. Their socialization, contrary to expectations, was found to be a strength for academic achievement, although fraught with stress. This study points to the need for schools to unwrap their homogeneous notions of success and expand opportunities for more students to be successful.
Issue Date:1993
Description:367 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9314913
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1993

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