Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Individual and Familial Factors Influencing the Educational and Career Plans of Chinese Immigrant Youths

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Individual and Familial Factors Influencing the Educational and Career Plans of Chinese Immigrant Youths

Article excerpt

The authors explore how individual and familial factors predict educational and career aspirations, plans, and vocational outcome expectations of urban, Chinese immigrant youths. Participants were 265 Chinese immigrant high school students in New York City. The results indicated that higher self-reported English language fluency and career-related support from parents positively predicted career and educational aspirations and plans to go to college, lower English language fluency predicted plans to work immediately after high school, and perception of educational barriers predicted negative career expectations. Implications for future research and counseling in the career development of Asian immigrant youths are addressed.

In 2005, more than one third of all immigrants to the United States came from Asian countries, and, in this group, immigrants from China are the second largest group legally admitted to the United States (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2006). For many parents, a main reason for immigrating is to provide better educational and career opportunities for their school-age children (Trueba, Cheng, & Ima, 1993). Despite the recent influx of Asian immigrant youths in U.S. schools, very little is known about their unique challenges and career and occupational development. The current study investigates contextual factors influencing the educational and career aspirations and expectations of first-generation Chinese immigrant youths.

The process of migration and adjusting to life in the United States may be difficult for many Asian immigrant youths (Yeh, 2003; Yeh et al., 2005). Immigrant youths are often faced with cultural adjustment difficulties, such as language barriers, culture shock, and an inability to assimilate to the peer culture, which oftentimes lead to mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression (Yeh, 2003).

Furthermore, Asian immigrants living in a low-income, urban environment experience many social and academic challenges. For example, in New York City, 22.4% of Asian children under age 17 years live below the poverty line, and 12.2% of them drop out of school (Citizens Committee for Children of New York, 2005). Although there are no statistics available on the exact dropout rate of Chinese immigrant students, the dropout rate among recent immigrants, especially those who immigrate during high school, is much higher in comparison to nonimmigrants (28.1% vs. 19.0%; Board of Education of die City of New York, 2000). The high dropout rate may occur because many recent Asian immigrants are from poor and rural areas in their home country, where they received little education and fewer years to learn English, which impedes their academic performance (The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, 2001).

In recent years, there has been increased effort to understand minority students' career development (e.g., Fitzgerald & Betz, 1994; Leong & Serafica, 1995) and urban youths' educational and career issues (Kenny, Blustein, Chaves, Grossman, & Gallagher, 2003). However, there continues to be a dearth of research examining urban Asian immigrant youths' educational and career issues (Louie, 2001 ). Existing career development theories and constructs are also embedded in the White, middle-class norm and may not apply to Chinese immigrants (Ma & Yeh, 2005). Leong and Hardin (2002) urged researchers to examine the cross-cultural validity of career development models and theories and to incorporate variables that are specific to each culture. In the present study, a developmental contextual model is used to investigate the educational and career plans of Chinese immigrant youths. Culturally specific variables (e.g., parental values, language barriers) are used to enhance this conceptual framework.

Developmental Contextual Framework

Kenny et al. (2003) proposed using a developmental contextual model of career development (Vondracek, Lerner, & Schulenberg, 1986) to understand the educational and career plans of urban ethnic minority youths. …

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