A study from the American Psychological Association is reporting that high school behavior is a strong predictor of success later in life.
The researchers found that responsible students who have good reading and writing skills and stay interested in school are likely to have better jobs and higher incomes regardless of their IQ, socioeconomic status, or other personality factors.
“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. “Our research found that specific behaviors in high school have long-lasting effects for one’s later life.”
The researchers analyzed data that had been collected by the American Institute for Research from 346,660 American high school students in 1960. The team also obtained follow-up data from 81,912 of the students 11 years later and from 1,952 of the students 50 years later.
The initial survey documented information on student behaviors and attitudes as well as personality traits, socioeconomic status, and demographic factors. The follow-up surveys measured educational attainment, income, and occupational prestige.
Responsibility in students was found to be strongly associated with educational attainment and prestigious job placement both 11 years and 50 years later. Students with a greater interest in school were also found to have higher incomes 50 years later.
The researchers believe that much of this effect can be attributed to overall educational achievement.
“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,” said Spengler. “This study highlights the possibility that certain behaviors at crucial periods could have long-term consequences for a person’s life.”
The research is published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.