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Article

Educational choice of Russian high school students in grade nine

Drawing on the data provided by Russian panel study ‘Trajectories in Education and Careers’ (TrEC), we explore the different rationales pupils employ in deciding their education path in grade nine. Drawing on the relative risk aversion theory we show how young people’s decision-making logics are aimed at class maintenance and risk management. Using a qualitative methodology we show that the decision to continue into grade ten with the view to enter a university program is largely a ‘non-decision’ informed by class-appropriate ambition. While students from higher socio-economic backgrounds ‘automatically’ enrol in grade ten, students of lower socio-economic backgrounds tend to opt for vocational education in the hope of ‘fast-tracking’ to adulthood and the world of work. Drawing on the concept of a ‘cultural narrative’ we also demonstrate that what is considered ‘rational,’ ‘safe’, ‘risky,’ etc. is both class- and culture-specific.