Adaption to High School among Affluent Youth: Stress and Effective Coping Strategies
Funded by: Charles Engelhard Foundation
Project dates: November 2007 - October 2009
Principal Investigator: Gwadz, Marya
Co-Investigator: Leonard, Noelle

Adjusting to high school requires that students develop effective strategies for adapting to multiple stressors and challenges. However, factors that promote or undermine youth’s successful adjustment to high school are not well understood. Chronic stress may play a critical role in mental health and behavioral problems including addictive disorders, risk behavior and academic performance. This mixed methods, multi-phase study focused on affluent youth in independent (private) schools. The study focused on 1th graders in two such institutions and examined sources of stress, resources for stress regulation including coping skills, social support and participation in academic activities, and their relationships to mental health symptoms, substance use, relationships, and adjustment to high school. In addition, the study explored the effective strategies youth have developed to maintain high levels of mental health, behavioral and academic adjustment. Findings from the study will be interpreted by an Expert Panel and used to inform programs to foster healthy adjustment of students in high-achieving private high schools.

Related Publications
Leonard NR, Gwadz MV, Ritchie A, Linick JL, Cleland CM, Elliott L, Grethel M (2015).
A multi-method exploratory study of stress, coping and substance use among high school youth in private schools
Frontiers in Psychology, 6, Article 1028. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01028. PMCID: PMC4511824.