This paper describes part of the research of a project commissioned in 1987 by the New South Wales Department of Education. The project is still in progress. It has a strong longitudinal component with a large cohort of students (originally more than 3000 from 22 government high schools) being surveyed from Year 9 to Year 12 of their school years and beyond. In addition to the longitudinal cohort, viz. Year 9 students in 1987, students from Years 10 and 11 were also surveyed in 1987 in order to obtain cross-sectional base data. The project was conceived during a period of increasing retention rates into the post compulsory years of schooling. The overall aim of the project is to examine the factors which influence students to stay on at school and gain from the experience in terms of both attainment and broader definitions of a satisfying school experience.