The Influence Of Parent Social Economic Status On Undergraduates’ Career Choice In Selected Public And Private Universities In Lagos State

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The Influence Of Parent Social Economic Status On Undergraduates’ Career Choice In Selected Public And Private Universities In Lagos State


The study examined the influence of parent social economic status on undergraduates’ career choice in selected public and private universities in Lagos State. 2 Universities in Lagos metropolis was used as a study (University of Lagos and Pan Atlantic University, Lagos State)

The study employed survey research method. The design is numerical data that was generated from a number of questionnaires administered to several respondents. Relevant data was collected at the same instance; a cross-sectional design was be adopted as well. The demographic data of the participants was analyzed by means of descriptive statistical techniques of frequency distribution and percentages. Each of the four hypotheses formulated was tested using the simple linear regression analysis at the .05 level of significance. All statistical analysis was executed with the IBM SPSS Version 23 software.

The study revealed that: Parents’ influence has a significant effect on students’ career aspirations at the University. Peer group has a significant impact on students’ career aspirations at the University. Environment does not have a significant influence on students’ career aspiration at the University. Parents’ financial background has a significant impact on students’ career aspirations at the University.

The study concluded that parents’ influence, peer group factor, and parents’ financial background has individual significant influence or impact on career aspiration at the Universities in Lagos State, while environment does not have such an impact or influence on career aspiration. The study further recommends that: The government through the Ministry of Education should strengthen its policies on career counselling and parental involvement in career choices made by children. School administrators, counsellors, and guidance teachers should take career counselling in the schools more seriously and provide quality career guidance services to their pupils/students with the active involvement of parents. Students should be made aware of the importance of making career choices in line with their personality characteristics and ability in order to be successful in the world of work. Students should endeavor to associate with peers that could have positive influence on their studies and career aspiration while avoiding peers that that could negatively influence them in arriving at suitable careers.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Career selection is one of the primary important choices a student will have to take in his life. This choice of decision will have impact on them throughout their lives, (Kerka, 2015). Career plays a very fundamental and significant role in the life of the individual simply because it determines the pattern of his or her income, affects the individual’s personality and concept of life. So, career is a life time pursuit for success. It is the sequence of major positions occupied by an individual all through his life time. The word career is generally defined as all like roles individuals play including students, parents, employees, retirees and employers, in securing a livelihood, (Daniel, 2017). Keller (2004) thus indicates that career is the totality of experience through which one learns about and prepares to engage in work as part of his way of living. In summary, career is the totality of work one does in his life time to earn a living. It’s therefore a positive thing for one to think as far as possible in achieving this fit. Therefore, making a career choice is essential for everyone, (Hooley, 2012).

Career choice is something very complex to make especially a person’s livelihood relies on it. Career choice has become a complex task among students in the face of ever changing technology and the information sector, (Maxwell, 2015). Career according to Cambridge Advance learner’s Dictionary (2010) refers to job or series of job that you do during your working life. Therefore, choosing a career simply means choosing a life job. Career choice is affected by multiple factors include parents influence, peer groups influence, environmental factors, and many others such as personality, interest, self-concept, identity, globalization, socialization, role model, social support and available resources such as information and finance, (Kerka, 2015).

In the same view, (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 2011) outlined that each individual undertaking the process is influenced by several factors including the context in which they live in, their personal aptitudes, social contacts and educational attainment. He alluded that factors influencing career choice can either be intrinsic or extrinsic or both. However, most people are influenced by careers that their parents favour, others follow the careers that their educational choices have opened for them, some choose to follow their passion regardless of how much or little it will make them while others choose the careers that give high income. The current study however, mainly focused on the most ignored factor among all factors influencing career choices of undergraduates. Thus, influence of parents’ socio-economic status as the main factor is of major interest in this study. In Nigeria however, school leavers are seen in various careers and occupations which they find themselves into as they grow and interact. Thus, it is not known how parents influence career choices made by their children in tertiary institutions.

Parents influence on the career choice of their children has necessitated this research after being aware of the enormous and complex challenges encountered by undergraduates and youths of nowadays. However, with the lack of proper guidance, these youths may end up not achieving their goals in life. It’s a known fact that many young individuals of today are having some difficulties in choosing an occupation and relating personal skills, interests and abilities to careers. In addition, a considerable number of school leavers today end up on the streets not identifying their potentials. Therefore, there is the need to help them discover themselves in relations of their abilities, interests, values, beliefs, and potential. They should also be assisted to acquire skills they need in order to cope with the various circumstances they may encounter, later on in life (Morsel, 2015).

Similarly, it is a known fact that the role played by parents and the family at large is of great value in the education and career aspirations made by their children. Undeniably, the first responsibility of educating a child lies with the parents/family and thereafter, turns to be a shared responsibility with the school and the community at large. Although, children learn more from parents despite the fact that schools usually ignore parental input in the education of their children and consequently their career choices. Parents as individuals who know interests, abilities and personalities of their children have the tendency to have particular influence on decisions children make. Nonetheless, understanding the influential elements that parents have on career aspiration of children isn’t clear in spite of the unique and critical impact parents hold in this matter, therefore, providers of career guidance take this matter unrecognized, (James, 2004).

Peer pressure is the influence exerted by a peer on an individual to change his/her attitude and values so as to comply with the norms of his/her group, (Kirk, 2015) while most scholars believe that peer pressure has an influence on children’s academic performance, Kirk (2015) observes that few studies have been done to prove this believes. Peer pressure is as well defined as when individuals of the same age group encourage or urge each other to do something or to keep doing something else, no matter if the person personally wants to do it or not, (Ryan, 2014). Peer influence is as well as peer pressure and it involves changing one’s behaviour to meet the perceived expectations of others, (Burns & Darling, 2011). In general, most teens conform to peer pressure on fairly significant things like music, clothing or hair styles, when it comes to more values, parents still remain more influential than the peer group, (Black, 2012).

Studies have confirmed to a great extent, the impact of peer influence and objectives on children’s choice of career. College students always choose their friends and they often choose roommates, neighbour’s and classmates. They are likely to choose peers whose unobservable characteristics are systematically related to their own. Even when the choice of peers is not explicitly voluntary, there may be associations between characteristics of peers. For instance, by enrolling in a difficult courses (or an advanced or honour section of a course) a good student would surround himself or herself with good peers, (Daniel, 2017). A number of studies for instance, Adams and Fitch (2012) Arnett (2000), Benabou (2011), and Bryan (2005), confirm research findings that the value of the peer group with whom the school student spends the most time are stronger factor in the students level of academic success than the values, attitudes, the support provided by the family.

Taylor (2011) observed that parental involvement in career related issues of their children is one of a series of factors that leads young people to engage in more intense and effective information seeking activities. This is from the fact that career conversations between a parent and a child play a huge role as they shape joint goals and shared meaning and regulate action in the children as they make decisions in their careers. Parents are seen to be most commonly consulted as influential sources of career information and advice among children and are critical in total transition from school to the world of employment as they have particular influence on the career path of children.

Peer groups are an important influence throughout a person’s life; however they are more critical during their developmental years of adolescence. There is often a controversy about the influence of a peer group versus parental influence, particularly during adolescence. The power of the peer group becomes more important when the family relationships are not close or supportive. If the parents are largely unavailable, the children may turn to their peer group for emotional support. Most children in this situation are not discriminatory about the kind of group they join. They would often turn to a group that accepts them, even if the group is involved in illegal or negative activities. For some young individuals, the need for affiliation or closeness is often greater than the need to “do the right thing”, (Alika, 2010). In all societies since the beginning of time, adolescents have learned to become adults by observing, imitating and interacting with the grown-ups around them.

Environment has a momentous role in the career choice students make and the position the student attains in different ways. Environment is a word which has many connotations; it has physical, economic, social and cultural dimensions. From an environmentalist point of view, it is defined as the sum total of all social, biological, chemical and physical factors which compose the surroundings of man, (Southwick, 2010). The environment being referred to here is a factor that is used to foster decisions in career choice. According to Sear and Gordon’s book (2012), since 1960s, sociologists have examined how career decision making is affected by the social environment. Some of these components of social environment factors include; family, social economic status, general economic conditions, society’s stereotypes about specific occupations, and peer groups, all influencing career choice, (Sears & Gordon, 2012).

According to Khallad, (2010) and Watson, Quatman and Edler, (2012), career choices are partial, determined by factors like environmental factors, peer groups, socioeconomic status, gender, race, parents’ occupation and level of education and the expectations of parents. Several scholars have assessed these factors to establish whether they actually play a role in career choice and if so, what are their roles in career behaviour and how do they affect a person’s career choice, (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 2011).

The researcher is passionate about the factors that determines undergraduates’ career choices and would want to find a definitive answer to this, “what factors influence students’ choice of career aspiration at school”? Therefore, the relevance of this study is to show the determinant factors that have the tendency of influencing students’ career choices both private and public Nigerian universities. Basically, there are a number of factors that determine students’ choice and this research is attempting to discover some of the significant factors in choosing. Parents, peer groups, and environmental factors when combined significantly predicted students’ choice of career aspirations at the private and public universities in Nigeria.

Therefore, the study will like to address the effects of three very influential factors. The parents’ attributes, peer group, and environmental factors. It is against this background that this study will find out the parental, peer groups and environmental influence on students’ choice of career aspiration.

Public and Private Universities

Public universities are supported and controlled by the government of the state. Adeyinka (2010) stated that public universities are those schools that were established, managed, financed, as well as supervised by the government. He further opined that those schools were established with the tax payer’s money in order to educate the generality of the people irrespective of their economic, social or political status in the society. Public universities are neither controlled by individuals, private interest groups, or agencies but by the government. After the creation of Nigeria, all the schools that were established were under the management and control of either the federal and state government.

Mojeeb Alabi in National mirror of September 23rd 2012 opined that History as a subject seems to be receiving less attention; he attributed the problem to constant changes in government policy. He stated that Nigeria’s educational policy is seriously unfriendly to local contents in the curriculum, this notwithstanding, lack of adequate funding, poor teachers salary among others adversely affect the teaching and learning in most public schools.

As a result of this, private individuals, private groups and organizations started to establish, manage and finance private schools to educate children and also make profit. The owners and proprietors of those private schools are profit earners due to the fact that they invested their money in building the schools, providing all the necessary facilities and equipment, employment of qualified and competent teachers for the purpose of giving good education to the children and also making profits. These private schools include in their curriculum all the subjects especially those not done in public schools. Nwangwu (2000) stated that the private schools offer what the public schools cannot provide and that they relive parents the burden of having their children stay at home for long periods of time as a result of continuous strikes by teachers in the public schools. He stated that private schools run without disruption in the schools calendar thereby providing steady and quality education unlike the public schools. Okeke (2000) observed that in NECO Examinations, the performances of students in private schools are better than the performance of students in public schools. He also stated that private schools are closely monitored and supervised by the school management boards, as a result; they perform better in external examinations.

It has been observed that, most parents influence children to pursue activities they think will win their consent. For instance, some parents give punishment to their children for not earning distinctions or criticize them for pursuing a management course instead of a practical profession such as law or medicine. In a situation like that, children might feel obliged to select a prestigious or high-earning occupation to earn their parents’ respect or making them proud. Alternatively, when parents make it clear that they’ve no certain expectations for their children’s career choices, they often feel free to explore a greater variety of professions, choosing on the basis of their own preferences instead of those of their parents, (Morsel, 2015).

Therefore, it is on this premise that parents are the first individuals to communicate and interact with their children, as they know better what their children can and cannot do thereby leading to how they influence career choices their children make in life. In order to understand the determinants influencing undergraduates career choice in tertiary institutions, using University of Lagos, Lagos State University, Caleb University and Pan Atlantic University, Lagos State as study case.

1.2. Statement of Problems

In the light of technological advancement, economic recession, increased unemployment in the world of work as well as increase in the number of occupations, undergraduates in Nigeria Universities and other tertiary institutions are faced with the challenges of making a suitable career choice. Making choices from a list of alternatives is an integral part of life. At various stages of life, individuals have to make some important decisions. Some of such decisions tend to have everlasting impacts on the individual. The problem of this study is to find out how the determining factors influencing undergraduates career choice in both private and public universities in Lagos State.

A number of factors that affect the career choices of students in Nigerian universities students are identified which are; parents, peer group, and environmental factors, simply because of the role parents played in the life of their children. The contribution of each of these factors is still obscure, (Owoyele & Toyobo, 2013).

Parents that are very wealthy and rich tend to programme the kind of discipline or professions they want their children to offer. For example, parents that are doctors, lawyers and artisans would want their children to take after them, so that the much money invested into the business will not be inherited by someone who is outside the family or become useless, (Wong, & Liu, 2010). Parents have the tendency to influence in students choice of career aspiration and this may be against the interest of the child. While parent from the rural areas with less income may not be privilege to advice their wards to make choice of career base on their interest. Therefore, such children are easily influence by peer groups, (Maina, 2013).

Many peers act as important role models, who are seen as powerful means of transmitting attitudes, value, norms and pattern of thought and behaviour. In a number of occasions students prefer to be among their colleagues. Eventually they end up pursuing their intention through peer influence or pressure. The influence of peer grouped may hinder the progress of guidance and counselling programme among students where the student has been misinformed by his/her friends to make choice of career based on interest of his peers not necessarily considering their interest and capabilities, (Alika, 2010). Therefore, it becomes necessary to identify how peer groups influence students’ choice of career aspiration in private and public universities across the country.

The environment as well plays a vital role in influencing the career aspiration of students because, the environment comprises of many activities and from these activities an individual can be influenced through it. In an environment where criminal activities are rampant, an individual can develop this kind of criminal mentality. Similarly, in an environment full of learned people with professional skills like Law, Medicine, Architect and many more, these individuals can influence the career choice of a person. Although, there is scanty research on the influence of environmental factors on choice of career aspiration among undergraduates, which is one of the reasons this study will be examined.

Literatures revealed that most parents and peers influence students on the choice of career aspiration without considering their aptitude, skills and performance which eventually affects their career and ambitions in the future. This study therefore tends to investigate the influence of parents, peer groups and environmental factor on undergraduates choice of career aspiration in private and public Nigerian universities.

1.3. Research Objectives

The main objective of the study is to examine the influence of parent social economic status on undergraduates’ career choice in selected public and private universities in Lagos State. The specific objectives are to;

  1. Determine how parents influence career choices of their children at the Universities;
  2. Examine the influence of peer group on students’ career aspiration at the Universities;
  3. Find out if the environment has an influence on students’ career aspirations at the University;
  4. Investigate if parents’ financial background affect career aspirations of students at Universities.

1.4. Research Questions

These research questions were posed for the purpose of this study.

  1. How do parents influence career choices of their children at the University?
  2. To what extent does peer group influences students’ career aspiration at the University?
  3. What is the influence of environment on students’ career aspirations at the University?
  4. To what extent does the financial background of parents affect career aspirations of students at the University?

1.5. Research Hypotheses

In view of the above objectives, the hypothesis will be presented in their null forms.

  1. Ho1: Parents influence does not have a significant effect on students’ career aspirations at the University
  2. Ho2: Peer group does not have a significant impact on students’ career aspirations at the University
  3. Ho3: Environment does not have a significant influence on students’ career aspirations at the University
  4. Ho4: Parents financial background does not have a significant impact on students’ career aspirations at the University.

1.6. Significance of the Study

At the time when most school leavers wonder on which career to choose, a study of this nature is relevant. This study is expected to contribute to the existing literature on influence of parents’ socio-economic status on career choice of their children in higher learning institutions in Nigeria. Also, this study may be of importance to the Ministry of Education in strengthening policies on career counselling and parental involvement in career choices made by children. Furthermore, it is hoped that this study may provide data that can be beneficial to school administrators and guidance teachers to help them provide quality career guidance services to their pupils with the involvement of parents. The study may also provide information to both learners and parents on how critical parents are when it comes to career choices of their children. Finally, it may help students realize the usefulness of career choice as they enter the world of work after studies.

1.7. Scope of the Study

It would be much demanding to undertake a complete study of the effects of socio-economic status of parents on the career aspirations of undergraduates at the Universities in Lagos metropolis and due to logistics constraint on the researcher, only two universities will be sampled among these tertiary institutions giving as; University of Lagos, Lagos State University, Caleb University and Pan Atlantic University, Lagos State. The sampled schools are selected based on their metropolitan population characteristics.

1.8. Operational Definition of Terms

Seeing that words may mean differently in different contexts, therefore, the following definitions are given as the words used as intended to be understood for the purpose of this study.


Activities and positions involved in vacations, occupations as well as related activities associated with an individual’s life time of work


Psychologists see environment as the physical and nonphysical space in which we start our lives, mature, grow and develop and eventually die. They could be physical, mental, emotional or social environment.


A person who begot a child or children or a guardian of a child or children

Peer Group:

Refers to the influence exerted by a peer on a person to change his/her attitude and values in order to conform with the norms of his/her group

Educational Status:

Is mostly used for social processes in which one achieve social competence and personal growth, carried on in a selected, controlled sitting which can be institutionalized as a school or college.

Occupational Status:

An individual’s trade, vocation or principal means of earning living.

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