Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Erin Hardin

Committee Members

Melinda Gibbons, Jacob Levy


We examined 892 high school student’s perceptions related to college-going and science, technology, engineering, math, and medical (STEMM) careers. Students were 10th and 11th graders attending three rural Appalachian high schools in the Southeastern U.S. Social Cognitive Career Theory was used to examine group differences in perceptions related to gender, perspective first-generation college student (PFGCS) status, and the presence or absence of aspirations to pursue a STEMM career. Young women and men scored similarly on all but one dependent variable, college-going self-efficacy, where young women scored higher. Students who plan to pursue a STEMM career had higher scores on every measure than those who do not plan to pursue a STEMM career. There was an emergence of a third PFGCS status group, students who were unsure of their parent’s education level, indicating that this group of students should be examined in future research as a distinct group.

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