Criminal, Basket Case, Jock, Princess or Brain?

Life is like high school, according to two researchers who tracked a sample of high schoolers through their early 20s to see if the teenagers' perceptions of themselves accurately predicted what they would be like as young adults.

In 1987, Jacquelynne Eccles, a senior research scientist at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, asked 900 high-school sophomores which of the five character types in the popular 1985 coming-of-age movie "The Breakfast Club" they most resembled: Jocks, Princesses, Basket Cases, Brains or Criminals.

Twenty-eight percent identified themselves as Jocks, 40 percent as Princesses, 12 percent as Brains, 11 percent as Basket Cases and 9 percent as Criminals. As it happened, these thumbnail descriptions were remarkably helpful in charting their lives after high school and college, Eccles reported in a recent issue of the Journal of Adolescent Research.

Half of all Brains went on to graduate from college, compared with 17 percent of the Criminals, 29 percent of the Basket Cases, 30 percent of the Jocks and 36 percent of the Princesses. One in four Basket Cases said they had gone to a psychologist by age 24, compared with only 6 percent of the Jocks.

Jocks, particularly female athletes, were earning more money at 24 than any other group, Eccles and her research team found. But Jocks also had their problems: They were more likely to be in alcohol recovery programs (5 percent) than any other group except the Criminals (11 percent).