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Social Class and Expectations of Rural Adolescents: The Role of Parental Expectations


concerning this article should be addressed to Sarah Schmitt-Wilson, Department of Education, Montana State University, 120 Reid Hall, Bozeman, MT 59717 (e-mail:


This study investigated mechanisms involved in the intergenerational transmission of social class, specifically addressing the prediction of career expectations. The results indicated that among rural high school students (N= 200) in Grades 10–12, there was no direct effect of socioeconomic status (SES; as measured by parent education and occupation) on career expectations. However, there was a direct effect of educational expectations on occupational expectations. Building on the importance of educational expectations in the prediction of occupational expectations, the results suggested that perceived parental expectations explain variance in educational expectations. Overall, it seems that the effect of SES on occupational expectations was mediated by educational expectations; therefore, individuals of lower SES who have increased educational expectations are more likely to have occupational expectations similar to those of their higher SES peers. Moreover, increased parental expectations were positively associated with educational expectations among individuals of various SES levels.