Revista Adolescência e Saúde

Revista Oficial do Núcleo de Estudos da Saúde do Adolescente / UERJ

NESA Publicação oficial
ISSN: 2177-5281 (Online)

Vol. 14 nº 4 - Oct/Dec - 2017

Original Article Imprimir 

Páginas 31 a 40

Future projects of public high school high school students

Proyectos futuros de estudiantes de enseñanza media de escuela pública

Projetos futuros de estudantes do ensino médio de escola pública

Autores: Elenara Farias Lazzarotto da Costa1; Clarissa Tochetto de Oliveira2; Ana Cristina Garcia Dias3

1. Master in Psychology from the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM). Santa Maria, RS, Brazil
2. Doctor in Psychology. Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil. Master in Psychology from the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM). Santa Maria, RS, Brazil
3. Pos-Doctorate from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil. PhD in School and Development Psychology from the University of São Paulo (USP). São Paulo, SP, Brazil. Professor of the Graduate Programs in Psychology, Federal University of Santa Maria. Santa Maria, RS, Brazil., And the University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

Elenara Farias Lazzarotto da Costa
Universidade Federal de Santa Maria
Avenida Roraima nº 1000, 74B, 3º andar, sala 3302, Cidade Universitária, Camobi
Santa Maria, RS, Brasil. CEP: 97015-900

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How to cite this article

Keywords: Projects, students, adolescent.
Palabra Clave: Proyectos, estudiantes, adolescente.
Descritores: Projetos, estudantes, adolescente.

OBJECTIVE: This study investigated future projects by adolescents from public high schools.
METHODS: 243 students of both sexes, ages from 13 to 19 years participate in this study. Data were gathered by a socioeconomic questionnaire and the Incomplete Sentences Game. Information obtained on Incomplete Sentences Game were subjected to content analysis. On Incomplete Sentences Game, students were asked to complete the following sentences: "My future plans are", "After school, I wish", "I would not want to" and "When thinking about the future, I".
RESULTS: In sentences "My plans for the future" and "After school, I wish" the categories with higher percentage were "studying" and "work." In the sentences "My plans for the future are" and "When thinking about the future, I" answers revealed that students aim to achieve financial independence and be successful. In the sentence "I would not want to" the categories with higher percentages were: "fail", "do what I do not like" and "stop the studies". "Thinking about the future" revealed three categories: "positive feelings", "be successful" and "negative feelings".
CONCLUSION: The students' main objectives are to continuing with studies and working. They revealed positive and negative feelings concerning the future, specially fear of failing. The category "do not know" was seldom used, suggesting that students have their future projects defined.

OBJETIVO: El presente estudio buscó investigar los proyectos futuros de estudiantes de enseñanza medio de escuelas públicas.
MÉTODOS: Participaron de ese estudio 243 estudiantes, de ambos sexos, con edad entre 13 y 19 años. Los instrumentos utilizados fueron: ficha de datos socioeconómicos y el Juego de Sentencias Incompletas. En el Juego de Sentencias Incompletas, los estudiantes fueron instruidos a completar las siguientes sentencias: "mis planes para el futuro son", "luego de la escuela, quiero", "no me gustaría" y "al pensar en el futuro, yo". Las informaciones obtenidas fueron sometidas al análisis de contenido.
RESULTADOS: En las sentencias "mis planes para el futuro" y "luego de la escuela, yo quiero", las categorías que obtuvieron mayor porcentaje fueron "estudiar" y "trabajar". Ya las sentencias "mis planes para el futuro son" y "al pensar en el futuro, yo" indicaron que los estudiantes quieren conquistar la independencia financiera y ser bien exitosos. En la sentencia "no me gustaría", las categorías: "fracasar", "hacer lo que no le gusta" y "parar los estudios" fueron las más citadas. "Al pensar en el futuro", tres categorías obtuvieron mayor porcentaje: "sentimientos positivos", "ser bien exitoso" y "sentimientos negativos".
CONCLUSIÓN: Los principales objetivos de los estudiantes son continuar sus estudios y trabajar. Frente a los proyectos existen sentimientos positivos y negativos. No obstante, un sentimiento que se destaca es el miedo de fracasar frente a las elecciones. La categoría "no sé" fue poco utilizada, lo que sugiere que los estudiantes poseen sus proyectos futuros definidos.

OBJETIVO: O presente estudo buscou investigar os projetos futuros de estudantes do ensino médio de escolas públicas.
MÉTODOS:Participaram desse estudo 243 estudantes, de ambos os sexos, com idades entre 13 e 19 anos. Os instrumentos utilizados foram: ficha de dados socioeconômicos e o Jogo de Sentenças Incompletas. No Jogo de Sentenças Incompletas, os estudantes foram instruídos a completar as seguintes sentenças: "meus planos para o futuro são", "após a escola, eu desejo", "eu não gostaria de" e "ao pensar no futuro, eu". As informações obtidas foram submetidas à análise de conteúdo.
RESULTADOS: Nas sentenças "meus planos para o futuro" e "após a escola, eu desejo", as categorias que obtiveram maior percentual foram "estudar" e "trabalhar". Já as sentenças "meus planos para o futuro são" e "ao pensar no futuro, eu" indicaram que os estudantes almejam conquistar a independência financeira e serem bem sucedidos. Na sentença "eu não gostaria de", as categorias: "fracassar", "fazer o que não se gosta" e "parar os estudos" foram as mais citadas. "Ao pensar no futuro", três categorias obtiveram maior percentual: "sentimentos positivos", "ser bem sucedido" e "sentimentos negativos".
CONCLUSÃO: Os principais objetivos dos estudantes são continuar seus estudos e trabalhar. Frente aos projetos existem sentimentos positivos e negativos. Porém, um sentimento que se destaca é o medo de fracassar frente às escolhas. A categoria "não sei" foi pouco utilizada o que sugere que os estudantes possuem seus projetos futuros definidos.


Adolescence is a complex stage of human development that presents changes in different spheres of life: emotional, cognitive, biological, attitudinal, social, among others1. The adolescent defines himself mainly through his activities, inclinations, aspirations and affective relations2. At this stage, it is expected to build a life project, where it is considered a moment to make personal and professional choices. These will support the construction of future projects, in which the adolescent will translate the vision he has of himself, his qualities and what he aims to achieve3. However, this moment of discovery and search for some definitions, can generate in adolescents many questions, which in turn, are associated with ambivalences and conflicts4,5. It is distressing for the adolescent to confront the questions: "Who am I?", "Where am I going?", "What direction should I give my life?". However, these questions are fundamental for their maturation and development of their life project4,5.

In this sense, it is necessary to increase the knowledge about the future projects of adolescents. Research can offer adolescents a moment of reflection and, moreover, is a way to understand how adolescents perceive their life projects, what their yearnings and questions. This will consequently help ease anxiety about the choices that adolescence carries and prepares them for future choices. Studying life projects contributes to the advancement of scientific knowledge and subjective well-being.


This article aims to present the future projects of high school students of a public school in a city in the interior of Rio Grande do Sul.



A total of 243 students participated in this study, of which 68.3% (n = 166) were female. The ages ranged from 13 to 19 years (M = 16.14, SD = 1.22). The age criterion used to define the period of adolescence was from the World Health Organization (10 to 19 years of age)6. Regarding schooling, 46.9% (n = 114) of students attended the first year of high school, 26.7% (n = 65), the second year of high school and 26.3% (n = 64) , the third year of high school.

Instruments, Ethical Considerations and Procedures

The instruments used for data collection were: a socioeconomic data sheet and the Incomplete Sentences Kit. The purpose of the socioeconomic data sheet was to investigate personal data. The Incomplete Sentence Game presented four sentences to be completed: "my plans for the future are", "after school, I desire", "I would not like to" and "when thinking about the future I". The aim of this instrument is to understand the meanings attributed to aspects of the participant's life, in order to allow a meaningful association for him / her on the proposed theme. It is intended to know how the participant represents his way of seeing and being in the world, through a model of short sentences related to the central question of the study. The participant is instructed to complete each sentence, which is formulated by the researcher. This instrument seeks a direction of the investigated theme and facilitates the spontaneous exposure of the subject to his daily life, beliefs and values7.

The research was developed in accordance with the Directives and Norms Regulating Research Involving Human Beings (Resolution 466/12 of the National Health Council) and Resolution No. 016/2000 of the Federal Council of Psychology. The project was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM) under protocol CAAE number 039,119.

The 8th Regional Education Coordination of Santa Maria/RS was held to present the research project, and authorization to carry out the research in the state secondary schools. The sample was composed at random from the draw. Four schools were drawn. In the first contact, the project was presented and the invitation to participate in the research was carried out. The four schools contacted wanted to carry out the research and signed the Institutional Authorization Term. As agreed with the schools, the day and time were set for the collection to take place in two moments, the project was first presented to the participants and the Free and Informed Consent Form was sent to the parents / guardians of students under 18 years of age. In addition, participants were also asked to sign the Free and Informed Consent Form, agreeing to participate in the research. The instrument was applied collectively, in the school itself and in the classroom, with the consent of the parents and the participants. The application of the questionnaire lasted approximately 60 minutes.

Data analysis

The information obtained in the Game of Incomplete Sentences was submitted to the analysis of thematic-categorial content8. Thematic-categorial content analysis requires procedures such as: floating, intuitive, or partially oriented text reading;definition of provisional hypotheses about the object studied and the text analyzed; determination of the registration units (the beginning and end of each observed registration unit must be marked in the text); definition of units of meaning or themes;thematic analysis of the registration units; categorical analysis of the text; treatment and presentation of results; discussion of the results and return to the study object9. After the analysis, the percentage of the answers in each category (total number of answers of all categories in relation to the total of answers of each category) was surveyed. Incomplete sentences with categories and their percentages are found in the tables presented in the results.


The qualitative data obtained in this study will be presented. Students were asked to complete four incomplete sentences regarding the future project.

"My plans for the future are"

The sentence "My plans for the future are" has obtained 373 answers (units of meaning) offered by students. Only 5 did not respond. Responses were grouped into 10 categories (see Table 1). To emphasize, in the answers the participants put more than one answer. In the analysis, we decided to break down the sentences with more than one answer. Therefore, the expression "unity of meaning".

"After school, I wish"

The sentence: "after school, I wish" obtained 282 responses (units of meaning), which were grouped into eight categories (see Table 2). Four students did not complete the sentence.

"I would not like to"

The sentence "I would not like to" obtained 243 responses (units of meaning), which were provided by 228 students (15 left that sentence blank). These were grouped into 10 categories (see Table 3).

"When thinking about the future, I"

The sentence "when thinking about the future, I" identified 257 responses (meaning units) offered by 230 adolescents (13 participants did not respond). Responses were grouped into 10 categories (see Table 4).


The present study describes that the main future projects of these students are to study and to work. The category that obtained the highest percentage in the sentences "my plans for the future" and "after school, I wish" went to study (47.72% and 69.85%). Teens plan to continue their studies, complete high school and pursue a college and / or technical course.

Access to higher education is still considered to be elitist, making competition between the popular and upper classes difficult. Private school students receive more stimulus for continuity of education than students in the public system10.Another study showed that students belonging to the private school had more expectations of joining a university, of obtaining a job that would bring them satisfaction and own a home than public school students11. The present study shows high indexes in the responses of public school students who would like to continue their studies at universities or technical courses. It can be said that these results configure the reality that adolescents live. The city where the research was conducted is considered a university city, where there are large investments in preparatory courses for entry into higher education. This factor may have contributed to the students aiming for a university or technical course. Another issue is scholarships that allow teenagers to enter private colleges.

The second category found in the sentences "my plans for the future" and "after school, I wish" went to work (19.84% and 18.80%). In the transition between the infantile phase and the adult phase, what is expected of the adolescent is the formation of personal identity and decision making about a possible future professional12. There are several reasons that explain the importance of professional choice. Through this choice, the person seeks to meet his needs for recognition, approval, love and independence. For this to occur, it is necessary to assume a vocational identity. By identifying with a vocation, the subject can find self-fulfillment and satisfaction1.

In the sentence "I do not like to", three categories stood out: fail (30.86%), do what they do not like (24.30%) and stop studies (16.90%). Faced with the future project, students are afraid of failing in their choices, especially when it comes to professional choice, since it is not an easy task, and the transition marked by the end of high school generates a fear of failure10. The need to make the right choice about the professional career overshadowed the construction of the worker's bond with the profession. If there is doubt or change in career trajectory, the adolescent feels judged by the failure to choose13. The professional bonds are built by the course of life itself and by duties. These links are unpredictable and possible to break, change, firm, redesign or dismantle. There are no failures or errors in this movement. In addition to professional choice, what life offers are intensive experiments that change course, confuse, subvert, produce strangeness, and often an uneasiness about not knowing how to act in the face of the new data brought by experience13. It is believed that the work of these questions with students, such as has been done in Professional Orientation interventions, could alleviate the fear of failure and also instrumentalize them in the search for information for professional choice14.

The categories doing what they do not like and stopping their studies are often interconnected since adolescents aim to pass the college entrance examination to continue their studies. As a result, many choose a less crowded course, which facilitates entry into university15, which is especially true for low-income students16. Thus, the low - income adolescents may develop sooner, enter the job market and benefit from the advantages of higher education11. This attitude on the one hand facilitates the fulfillment of the expectations of a professional future, but can generate feelings of frustration and loss of value, insofar as they perceive internal and external pressure, and the restrictions of professional achievement15. On the other hand, adolescents with better social income have financial support and can bear the costs until they are approved in a course with greater difficulty of entry16.

In the sentence "when thinking about the future I", there were three categories that presented the highest percentage: positive feelings (20.62%), being successful (18.67%) and negative feelings (15.17%). Being successful also appears in table 3 (4.11%), but what is perceived was a lack of understanding of what was requested in the sentence "I would not like to". This result contradicts what was found in Tables 1 and 4, in which the students stated that they wanted to achieve their financial independence and be successful professionals. A survey of young workers and not disadvantaged socioeconomic level workers shows that young people perceive the work as beneficial because through work is gained autonomy in relation to their parents and therefore will have a positive impact on other spheres of personal life17. In addition, it is known that many adolescents seek through work to contribute to family income. The importance of work for adolescents is linked to the economic factor, with work being a form of subsistence, that is, financial support not only for the subject, but also for his family17,18.

When it comes to positive feelings , when thinking about the future, adolescents have feelings like: feeling good, happy, determined, accomplished, confident, motivated, etc. A comparative study showed that students in private schools have more positive responses to the future than public school students. However, they tend to manifest negative feelings, such as indecision, insecurity or fear when confronted with their goals, dreams, demands and difficulties of reality10.

In the negative feelings category , students expressed feelings of insecurity, sadness, anxiety, fear, and so many others in the face of their future projects. This moment of choice is experienced by high school students, and is loaded with new responsibilities, generating uncertainties, insecurities and indecisions11. The adolescent is inserted in a complex network of factors, such as family, social and personality characteristics that the adolescent experiences the process of building plans that can be characterized by indecision. By being socially asked to make the professional choice at the end of the school period, the moment of professional indecision may generate negative emotional implications for the adolescent19. More undecided students were more depressed and anxious, indicating that the difficulty in carrying out the professional option can be detrimental to well-being. This is because, as time goes by, those who did not choose experience greater sensations of worthlessness, incompetence, and social disapproval. On the other hand, indecision can be characterized as an expected and inherent component of the professional choice process, and should be seen as a normative and even positive factor, by allowing reflection19.

Another result that attracted attention was the low indices of the category do not know about plans for the future and what to do after school (2.14% and 1.41% respectively), presented in Tables 1 and 2. Although these numbers are smaller, it is important to note that there are students who experience this moment, and do not know what they want. Adolescents with more defined future projects may also have doubts and uncertainties, which can be identified in Table 4, in the negative feelings category (15.17%).


The present study investigated the future projects of high school students in public schools. The main objective of adolescents is to continue their studies, be it to complete the secondary education for the first and second year students, as well as to carry out a college and / or technical course, idealized also by the students of the third year. Working is also one of the main goals of adolescents. In addition, students strive to gain financial independence and become successful professionals.Many adolescents seek, through work, to contribute to the family income. These projects seem to arouse as much positive feelings as happiness, fulfillment, trust, as negative feelings as insecurity, fear. The students presented the fear of failing mainly in relation to professional choice. Another issue discussed in this study was the category I do not know about the future or what to do after school. This category brings a relatively low number in the results, in front of that it is understood that the students have their defined life projects.

This research has limitations that must be considered in the interpretation of the presented results. Students from private schools and adolescents in other regions of the country can also establish different relationships with life projects.Therefore, it is suggested that more research be done with students from public and private schools in different regions of Brazil.

It is also questioned the ways that the adolescents follow to reach their life projects and what other projects they have besides the professional. As well as whether students receive support for coping with personal and professional projects, bothschool and family. In view of this, it is suggested to conduct a semi-structured interview that addresses more in-depth questions about the life project of students and adolescents.


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