A College Degree as a Turning Point: How Does One Get There ?

(Pages: 33-46)

Lauren O‟Neill Shermer*

Widener University One University Place Chester, PA 19013.


Scholars highlight the importance of both adolescent peers and prosocial life events in explanations of continuity and change in deviant behavior. Thus far, research has evaluated the pathway to desistance by focusing on what happens to one‟s trajectory after experiencing prosocial adult activities, including the role of adulthood friend-ships and educational achievement. This research shifts the focus to an earlier stage of the process and combines these two research realms to investigate the influence of one‟s adolescent peers on shaping the pathway to obtaining a college degree, which in turn, promotes desistance. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health allows this investigation to evaluate the level of deviance within one‟s peer group, while controlling for background characteristics. This research finds that the level of deviance in a peer network is detrimental for educa-tional attainment. Deviant peers also play a significant role in shaping educational expectations, which play a unique role in the desistance process, while highlighting the importance of background characteristics in conjunction with these more dynamic influences.


Peers, education, expectations, turning point, desistance.