Making a place in the world: Experiences of those who took less conventional paths from school is the latest report from the NZCER longitudinal study Competent Learners that has followed young New Zealanders from their final months in early childhood education to age 26. This research aimed to find out how those who leave school early or take less conventional paths from school build their adult lives and find or make their place in the world.
“I hope some of these young adults’ accounts of their experiences of the decade after leaving school provide some reassurance that doors are not closed for those who take less conventional paths from secondary school. Their disengagement with school raises some questions about what could change in secondary schooling to make it more of a place where they felt they belonged and could grow.” Says Dr. Linda Bonne, Senior Researcher
19 participants from the original cohort took part in researcher interviews in 2016 and an online survey. The research shows that overall, there are many ways to belong during emerging adulthood. Most of these 19 young adults’ lives since leaving school were characterised by change. Most expressed confidence in their own abilities, a preference for self-resilience and have a sense of belonging. Some took proactive decisions to help themselves live the life they wanted – rather than experiencing it as something that happened to them.
Relationships with family, friends and partners have been particularly important in building a sense of belonging.
Often there was some regret expressed for not staying longer at school or gaining qualifications that would have expanded their options.