According to hope theory, hope reflects individuals’ perceptions regarding their ability to clearly conceptualize their goals, develop the specific strategies to reach those goals (i.e., pathways thinking), and initiate and sustain the activities in support of those strategies (i.e., agency thinking). According to hope theory, a goal can be anything that an individual desires to experience, create, obtain, accomplish, or become. A goal may be related to grades in school or activities outside of school, but the important thing is that the goal has value to the individual.
Hope can benefit students during their time in school as well as in other parts of their lives. For example, higher-hope students not only set more challenging school-related goals for themselves than lower-hope students, but tend to perceive that they will be more successful at attaining these goals even if they do not experience immediate success (i.e., resilience, positive self-beliefs). Higher hope people also perform better in college. For example, hope scores can predict final grades in a college class even after taking into account the grades on the first exam in the class. In addition, hope scores can predict college grade point averages even after controlling for entrance examination scores on the ACT. In other words, for students of relatively equal ability, the higher hope students will have a greater chance of success in college. In another study, 57% of the higher-hope individuals had graduated from college after six years, while only 40% of the lower-hope individuals had graduated, and 25% of the lower-hope individuals were dismissed because of poor grades, while only 7% of higher-hope individuals had been dismissed. Higher levels of hope, in this case, can be equated with persistence. Outside of school, higher hope people report more optimism about life, more physical health, more self esteem, and greater levels of happiness, as well as less depression and hopelessness.