Exploration of Attitudes and Experiences of Young Adults Who Do and Do Not Attend College

Diane R. Follingstad, Hayley C. Meadows, Caihong R. Li, Ann L. Coker, Heather M. Bush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Personality traits, attitudes, and behavioral intentions of high school seniors prior to attending or not attending institutions of higher education were explored. Because of this age-group’s risk level, variables assessed included historical social/cultural factors, internal/contextual factors, and lifestyle factors potentially associated with violence experiences. Participants were seniors at 24 Kentucky high schools who voluntarily completed surveys. A year later, 2,073 reported whether they attended a 4-year institution (n = 1,038), a 2-year institution (n = 341), or did not attend college (n = 694). The 4-year college attendees reported significantly more protective factors and significantly fewer violence risk factors in high school than peers attending 2-year institutions or not attending college. The 2-year college students largely resembled nonattendees across variables in high school. Traits, behaviors, and attitudes/beliefs occurring prior to young adults’ postsecondary years may not only have potential for predicting post-high school choices but also vulnerability to violence experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-216
Number of pages15
JournalEmerging Adulthood
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by National Institutes of Health R01HD075783.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood and SAGE Publishing.


  • 2-year colleges
  • college students
  • high school
  • noncollege
  • violence risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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