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The Campus as a Frog Pond: An Application of the Theory of Relative Deprivation to Career Decisions of College Men

Data from a large national probability sample of graduating Senior men reveal a patter of findings which suggests the operation of "relative deprivation" in the career decisions of college men. Gennerally speaking, grade-point averages show stronger correlations with career choice than a measure of the intellectual caliber of the student body, although both are equally strongly related to tests of scholastic aptitude. The finding suggests the operation of "relative deprivation," that is, a tendency for students to evaluate their academic ability by comparison with their fellows on the same campus, not in terms of criteria which allow for school differences in ability level. When attitude items regarding feelings of academic successd are introduced into the tabulations, the interpretation is generally, but not completely, supported.