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Occupational Success Determined By What Kind of Student You Were, Study

By: Marie Donlon

It seems that what you did in high school can impact you as an adult—that is, professionally speaking— according to recent research.

According to the research, a person’s occupational success was determined more by the type of student they were in high school—reliable, interested with decent reading and writing skills—and less by other factors such as IQ or parental socioeconomic status.

"Educational researchers, political scientists and economists are increasingly interested in the traits and skills that parents, teachers and schools should foster in children to enhance chances of success later in life," said lead author Marion Spengler, PhD, of the University of Tübingen. "Our research found that specific behaviors in high school have long-lasting effects for one's later life."

To reach this conclusion, researcher conducted a long-term study, collecting data from almost 350,000 U.S. high school students over the course of 50 years beginning in 1960. The team looked at factors over the years such as behavior, personality traits, cognitive abilities, educational attainment, income, and, eventually, occupational prestige.

"Student characteristics and behaviors were rewarded in high school and led to higher educational attainment, which in turn was related to greater occupational prestige and income later in life," she said. "This study highlights the possibility that certain behaviors at crucial periods could have long-term consequences for a person's life."

The research was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.