Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Dr. Elizabeth Raposa

Committee Members

Dr. Meghan Sinton Miller

Dr. David Long


During the transition to adulthood, adolescents are faced with numerous developmental challenges, including increased rates of risk-taking, academic pressure, and greater struggles with low self-esteem. Naturally-occurring mentoring relationships can aid in providing guidance and advice as well as emotional and tangible support during this time (Ahrens et al., 2008). The present study examined how natural mentors during adolescence shape vocational outcomes during early adulthood, and whether this impact of mentoring can be explained by changes in perceived adulthood during the transition to adulthood. Analyses used data from a large, nationally representative sample, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), which followed 15,197 youth longitudinally from adolescence through ages 24-32. Results suggested that the presence of a natural mentor predicted vocational outcomes such as pursuing higher levels of education (b = .49, SE = .05, p < .001), more job autonomy (b = .06, SE = .02, p < .05), and having first jobs that better aligned with their career goals (b = -.23, SE = .04, p < .001) even after co-varying for youth age, minority status, gender, and baseline academic performance. Closeness of natural mentors predicted lower levels of education attained (b = -.06, SE = .02, p < .001). In addition, perceived adulthood partially mediated the effects of closeness to mentor on highest education achieved (Sobel = -.002, SE = .001, p < 0.01). These results suggest that naturally-occurring mentoring relationships during adolescence can lead to improved vocational outcomes, and that mentoring is also linked to increased perceptions of one’s adult roles.

Keywords: AddHealth, mentoring, emerging adults, perceived adulthood, vocational outcomes

On-Campus Access Only