Marginality and Motivation in the Life Course Models of German Turkish Youths in Berlin Julia Eksner This talk presents an analysis of the local meaning system embedding the educational goals of a group of German Turkish youths characterized by few structural opportunities. It describes and scrutinizes the curious case of youths who find themselves in the lowest track of the German education system and who do not select educational goals considered appropriate to their tracking. Education researchers – in Germany as well as other European countries and the United States - are baffled by the fact that despite the marginal chances that low-achieving students will have to graduate with high grades, or move up within the tiers of the tracking system, they consistently report educational goals tied to the higher tracks or tertiary education (Mickelson, 1990). This article investigates these seemingly paradoxical aspirations by broadening the unit of analysis from decontextualized educational goals to mental models about educational goals, and perceived barriers in their pursuit. It investigates the local meaning system of educational and life course goals of German Turkish apprenticeship-track students in Germany, and situates this meaning system in the context of structural constraints that youths perceive in attaining them.