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„Future and Career plans before be-fore high school graduation“ (ZuBAb study)

A cooperation project between the University of Cologne and the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB)

Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. Marita Jacob (University of Cologne), Prof. Dr. h.c. Jutta Allmendinger, Ph.D. (WZB), Prof. Dr. Marcel Helbig (WZB)

Research assistants: Melinda Erdmann (WZB), Irena Pietrzyk (University of Cologne), Juliana Schneider (University of Cologne)

Student assistants: Naomi Bader (University of Cologne)

Funding institution: Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia

Duration: 2016 – 2024


Contact at the University of Cologne

Study "Future and Career plans before high school graduation"

University of Cologne

Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology

Universitätsstr. 24

D-50931 Cologne,  


Aim of the project

The study “Future and Career plans before high school graduation” (Zukunfts- und Berufspläne vor dem Abitur (ZuBAb)) aims to capture the plans for post-school educational and professional careers of today's high school students and to gain insights about how the realization of these plans can be additionally supported. A panel survey (six waves in six years) assesses how respondents’ educational pathways and plans change over time. Besides addressing general questions in the field of sociology of education, the study evaluates the impact of the guidance-counselling program Talentscouting NRW, which is offered at some schools participating in the ZuBAb-study.


The talentscouting program

Talentscouting is an intensive and long-term counselling program for upper secondary high school students that aims at reducing social inequality at the transition to higher education. It is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia. 17 universities in NRW currently send trained counsellors to around 400 academic oriented and comprehensive high schools and vocational colleges. These counsellors support mainly students without university-educated parents on their way to university by providing individual and open-ended counseling sessions. The individual counselling is supplemented by external experts, special courses for academic competencies and detailed information on financial aid or on the application process for university.


Research questions

On the one hand, the research project examines which factors influence the educational success of high school students who are eligible for higher education (e.g. socio-emotional components; estimation of costs, benefits and the probability of success; neighborhood effects). On the other hand, the impact of participating in Talentscouting NRW on the educational trajectories is investigated (e.g. enrolment at a higher education institution, academic performance, self-efficacy expectations, study success, vocational training success, drop-out intention).


Selected Publications

Erdmann, Melinda/Pietrzyk, Irena/Schneider, Juliana/Helbig, Marcel/Jacob, Marita/ Allmendinger, Jutta (2022): Bildungsungleichheit nach der Hochschulreife – das lässt sich ändern. Eine Untersuchung der Wirksamkeit eines intensiven Beratungsprogramms 1,5 Jahre nach dem Abitur, WZB Discussion Paper, P 2022-002, Berlin: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung.

Erdmann, Melinda/Pietrzyk, Irena/Helbig, Marcel/Jacob, Marita/Stuth, Stefan (2022): Do intensive guidance programs reduce social inequality in the transition to higher education in Germany? Experimental evidence from the ZuBAb study 0.5 years after high school graduation, WZB Discussion Paper, P 2022-001, Berlin: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung.

Erdmann, Melinda/Helbig, Marcel/Stuth, Stefan (2021): Lehrende als Gatekeeper für externe Förderprogramme im Bildungssystem. Eine Analyse von Fremdselektionsprozessen bei der Schülerauswahl anhand einer Bildungsintervention. Soziale Welt: Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung und Praxis. 72. 255-282.

Pietrzyk, Irena/Erdmann, Melinda (2019): Investigating the impact of interventions on educational disparities: Estimating average treatment effects (ATEs) is not sufficient. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, online first.

Pietrzyk, Irena/Allmendinger, Jutta/Erdmann, Melinda/Helbig, Marcel/Jacob, Marita/Stuth, Stefan (2019): Future and Career Plans Before High School Graduation (ZuBAb). Background, Research Questions and Research Design, WZB Discussion Paper, P 2019-004, Berlin: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung.