Ambitious and ambivalent: a biographical approach to adolescents’ transition into higher education

Michael Christodoulou


In this article we try to shed light on the subjective side of how adolescents make their decisions to follow university studies. We argue that in analyzing decisions related to university transitions one has to take into account not only cultural and structural factors but also how these factors are inscribed in adolescents’ life-world experience and are biographically organized in the narratives they forge for construing themselves and for crystallizing their ambitions. By focusing on the “transition narratives” of 70 adolescents attending General (academically oriented) and elite high schools in a de-industrialized town of Southern Greece, three types of biographical identity formation seemed to emerge related to an ambivalently shaped narrative pathway according to which adolescents plot their transition to higher education. We conclude that biographical identity construction is a powerful concept for understanding exclusions and inclusions that operate in the contemporary higher education market.


Adolescence; Higher Education; Biographical Identity; Transition Narratives


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ACADEMIA | eISSN: 2241-1402 | Higher Education Policy Network

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