Purpose The main purpose of the current investigation was to explore the adaptation process of adolescents in remote areas who were able to successfully complete their senior high or vocational school degrees. Thus, we examined the strategies by which they overcame these difficulties and challenges, and studied the factors and adaptive process contexts that help adolescents in remote areas to adapt successfully. The goal was to find academic benchmarks for adolescents in other remote areas and to aid adolescents in remote areas to adapt to senior high or vocational schools in the future. Design/methodology/approach Graduates from a junior high school in a remote area who had already completed senior high or vocational school degrees or were currently in stable study situations were invited to participate in the study. Five interviews were conducted; 16 adolescents across four classes in a remote area were interviewed. Five girls and 11 boys participated in the study; six had graduated from senior vocational school, three were fifth-year students in junior college, six were thirdyear students in senior high school, and one was a second-year student in senior high school. Of the six graduates, five were already working, and another attended university. Findings The study revealed that the challenges faced by this group of adolescents in senior high or vocational school included: academic difficulties, anxiety and unease at being in a strange environment, stress from lack of career direction, and financial difficulties. The core belief that supported this group of adolescents as they completed their senior high and vocational school degrees was the "pursuit of dreams." Through continuously encouraging themselves or seeking assistance from parents, teachers, and peers, they were able to overcome difficulties. For them, the significance of studying at senior high or vocational school was to acquire competitive abilities for future work and to live better lives; to experience positive feelings about themselves and gain the respect of family members through being assertive; and to self-actualize their dreams. Originality/value The results of this study can be used to understand the beneficial factors that facilitate the completion of senior high and vocational school by adolescents in remote areas. This can serve as a reference for the future planning of counseling programs for adolescents in remote areas to assist them early and to help adolescents in remote areas prepare psychologically before leaving their homes for school, thereby elevating the chances of success. This study also provides recommendations for the practices of education, counseling, and research of adolescents in remote areas.
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