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Choices for the future: Exploring factors influencing student enrollment in school-to-work programs

1 August 2001


For years, school districts across the country have been investigating curriculum strategies that provide students with more relevant, hands-on experiences in and out of the classroom. The idea of School-to-Work began in 1994 as a result of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act. This concept, which promoted real world applications and work-based learning experiences, has since been adopted and implemented in hundreds of schools in the United States. The purpose of this study was to examine motivation factors behind student enrollment in these School-to-Work Programs, in addition to the benefits and detriments to students who choose to enroll in these programs. This study took place at a suburban high school located in the Pacific Northwest. The participants were high school seniors, School-to-Work teachers, and employers involved in School-to-Work. To protect the participants' rights to privacy and anonymity, I have provided pseudonyms for all participants in this study. Student, teacher, and employer attitudes about the advantages and disadvantages were analyzed. Overall, results were positive. Students were surveyed and interviewed about their reasons for enrolling in School-to-Work programs as well as their overall satisfaction with the program. Students indicated that career aspirations and interests primarily motivated them, and the general opinion about these programs was positive. Teachers were interviewed and survey and suggestions were made for improving options for students who choose to participate in School-to-Work programs. Finally, employers were interviewed and site visits were made to observe supervisors interacting with their student interns, and it was determined that it was imperative for employers to have a plan of action in place for these students to experience positive results from the internship.


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