Adjustment to College: Private High School Vs. Public High School
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
MATTINGLY, M. -. (2002). Adjustment to College: Private High School Vs. Public High School. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 5. Available online at Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Adjustment to College: Private High School Vs. Public High School

Sponsored by: MUKUL BHALLA (
During college, adjustment is a huge factor towards accomplishment. In our study, we defined adjustment as social and academic success or failure. The purpose of our study was to determine if the type of high school one attended, public or private, had any effect upon social and academic success in the collegiate environment. Social success is measured by alcohol consumption level because many people meet a lot of their friends when they are consuming alcohol. Our sample size was 67 college students from Loyola University New Orleans. The hypothesis of our study was that students who attended private high schools would have more moderate drinking levels and superior studying levels. We conducted a survey and the responses given by the students were analyzed using an independent samples t-test and correlational tests to determine if there were any significant results. Our hypothesis was not supported, however significant results were found in relation to private school students and alcohol consumption levels. Our study was limited by sample size, accuracy of the survey, and social desirability. For future studies, inquiry into more specifics of academic and social adjustment would be needed for a more accurate study.

It is rather common knowledge that the first year of collegiate education is one of the hardest. College is an adjustment and growth process that takes a lot of effort, patience, and common sense, but above all, college takes hard work. One study (Lapsley, Rice, & FitzGerald, 1990) found that for many adolescents, departure from home is a major transition; it takes its toll on the level of adaptation achieved by the students. College is an experience that some students find the most difficult experience of their lives; therefore, it is not hard to see why some students drop out or have significantly low grades. In some cases college students use several different forms of stress-relief to cope with their classes and assignments, ranging from smoking to alcohol consumption. Park and Levenson (2002) performed a survey that found that studentsí drinking to cope is a considerable factor in college student alcohol consumption. The researchers also found that men are more likely to use alcohol to cope with stress than women are. Alcohol use to cope with a situation is a common occurrence due to the prevalence and accessibility of alcohol on college campuses. However, in some cases these habits have already been developed fully within the studentís high school careers. However, in college going out and drinking have a more harsh effect than just a reputation for being a heavy drinker. In college, drinking and late nights often can cause missed classes, missed appointments, and missed opportunities, not to mention a lowered GPA. One study (Chemers, Hu, & Garcia, 2001) used two sets of questionnaires to record data about college adjustment. The questionnaires were handed out at the beginning of the fall semester and the end of the second semester. The researchers calculated how academic self-efficacy and optimism affect a studentís academic performance, stress, health, and commitment to remain in school results within each set of surveys. This study found that academic self-efficacy and optimism had a strong correlation to performance and adjustment, but also had a direct correlation to academic performance. This is conclusive research to our study due to its evidence of study habits falling under the category of self-efficacy and study habits are a form of behavior. Previous experiences, such as service in the military that cause a delayed entrance to academia can also have an effect upon success in college (Frederickson & Schrader, 1951).The purpose of this research was to investigate the connection between the type of high school that a college student attended and whether it predicts their studying and drinking habits in the collegiate environment. One study (Valios, Thatcher, Drane, & Reininger, 1997) found that both Public and Private high school students participate in high risk behavior, of which Public high school students were more likely to participate in high risk behavior, this was while the students were still in attendance at their respective high schools. The results of this study also suggested that attending a private high school was a safeguard against high-risk behavior. Another study (Stein, Soskin, & Korchin, 1975) found that when they examined public urban, public suburban, and private residential schools there was a greater amount of high-risk behavior, i.e. drug use, among suburban and private residential schools than in the urban environment. This study brings the idea of the suburban and residential students having more high-risk behavior than their urban counterparts, which had previously been a stereotype. The researchers found that the reason behind the elevated quantity of high-risk behavior amongst suburban and private residential schools was that the students came from predominantly well-educated and wealthy families. The cause of these students elevated high-risk behavior was straightforward: lack of entertainment.Our study examined the college adjustment levels between private high school and public high school students. We hypothesize that students coming from private high schools will have better study habits and a more moderate alcohol consumption level in college than students from public high schools, which will lead to a better adjustment to college life. Many college students go barhopping or to clubs and many consume alcoholic beverages when out with their peers. Alcohol consumption plays a large role in social adjustment therefore it played a large role in our study.

Participants A total of 67 co-ed, 20 male and 47 female, college students from Loyola University New Orleans volunteered. The expected age of participants was from 18 to 22 years of age. The majority of the participants were recruited from Loyola University New Orleans psychology classes or from the participant sign up sheet that was posted in the psychology department. Participants may have received course credit, if applicable. All participants were treated ethically according to APA standards. All of our volunteers were recruited through convenience sampling.Materials Sign-up sheets were used for the period of time in which recruitment was occurring. When the experiment is being preformed, the participants were given two copies of the informed consent form and a pen to sign and date the forms with. The consent form includes contact information for the investigators, counseling and career center, and the advisors of this study. Then the participants were given the survey, which consisted of nineteen questions concerning their academic and social lives. Questions pertained to whether of not they drank alcohol, how often they drank alcohol, their GPA, and scales pertaining to adjustment. We gave them choices of types of high schools to choose from, they were: Public, Private, Boarding, and Other. We then asked whether or not their high school was single sex or co-ed and whether their high school was Catholic, Religious, or Non-Religious. We used scales that ranged from 1 to 10, 1 being not adjusting well and 10 being adjusting very well. A copy of the survey packet is included in the appendix of this paper.Design and Procedure The design that was being used was Quasi-experimental design. The type of high school that the participant attended, i.e. public, private, home-schooled, etc. was the independent variable. The level of adjustment, socially and academically, that the participant has achieved thus far in the collegiate perspective of their lives was the dependent variable. For the procedure, all of the participants were given two copies of the informed consent form, one for their personal records and one to turn in and a survey to complete and turn in to the researcher that was on duty at the appointed time of their choosing. The researcher that was appointed to be present during the participantís selected time distributed the informed consent, answered any questions, explained that there are services available in the event that the participant feel upset afterwards, explained the instructions for the survey, and debriefed the participant when the survey was completed. The time to take the survey ranged from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.

For our study, we hypothesized that private high school students would be more successful in college, due to more moderate alcohol consumption levels and more well developed study habits. Our null hypothesis was that the type of high school one attended will have no influence upon social and academic adjustment in college. We performed an independent sample t-test in which we found that our hypothesis was not supported. The results showed no significant connection between what high school one attended and academic adjustment (t = .337, n.s.) and social adjustment (t = .198, n.s.), but did prove that there were group differences to correspond to t-tests. However, we were able to conclude that students who attended private high schools drink more in college (t = .019, p<.05) than those who attended public high schools.

We had predicted that we would find results consistent with my hypothesis, but sadly, we did not. We thought that we would find that private high school students adjust better academically and socially to college than public high school students because of their expericences. However, what we found is there is no conclusive relationship between what high school one attended and how one adjusts to college. Although, we did find that there is a relationship between the type of high school one attended and alcohol consumption. Alcohol can be a serious problem for students, who commonly do not see the connection between their misery and what they are doing to themselves (Grace-Kobas, 1999).One limitation of our study was that we had hoped to primarily run freshman participants but out of the sixty-seven participants we had, only thirteen were freshmen. Freshmen can be considered unsuitable in comparison to upperclassmen when it comes to social adjustment to college (Lapsley, Rice, & FitzGerald, 1990). But in order to test for academic adjustment it is better to test first semester freshmen, because students who have done poorly in the past are most likely no longer in attendance at the university causing range restriction on the adjustment variables.One limitation of our study was that we wrote the survey ourselves; it may not have contained enough questions to get a valid finding concerning adjustment level, socially and academically. We may not have included enough in depth questions concerning alcohol consumption to get conclusive results on its affects on academic and social adjustment. Social adjustment could also depend upon personality type; if a person is more outgoing then they will most likely adjust better because they will meet people more quickly. However, it is possible that social adjustment depends upon the attitude of the campus. In one study, college students felt that there was a lack of societal connection on their campuses, therefore they acted less social because they felt less connected to their peers (Lee, Keough, & FitzGerald, 1990). Those participants that felt that lack of connection also felt social stress more deeply.Another limitation to our study was questions that the participants did not answer, perhaps because it was not socially desirable, which was most of the missing data on the alcohol section of the questionnaire. Those answers that were unanswered were coded as missing data. In addition, our sample size was small, we might have found more conclusive results if our sample size had been larger. We recommend to prospective studies to use a bigger sample size. We conclude from our study that private school students consume more alcohol than public school students in college.

Chemers, M. M., Hu, L., & Garcia, B. F. (2001). Academic Self-Efficacy and First-Year College Student Performance and Adjustment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 55-64.Frederickson, N. & Schrader, W.B. (1951). Adjustment to College; a study of 10,000 veteran and non-veteran students in sixteen American Colleges. New Jersey. Educational Testing Service.Grace-Kobas, L. (1999, September 16). Psychologists advise students on how to beat those college blues. Cornell News Service. Retrieved November 6, 2002, from, D. K., Rice, K. G., & FitzGerald, D. D. (1990). Adolescent attachment, identity, and adjustment to college: Implications for the continuity of adaptation hypothesis. Journal of Counseling and Development, 68, 561-565. Lee, R. M., Keough, K. A., & Sexton, J. D. Social connectedness, social appraisal, and perceived stress in college women and men. Journal of Counseling and Development, 80, 355-367.Park, C. L., & Levenson, M. R. Drinking to cope among college students: prevalence, problems, and coping processes. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 63, 486-498.Stein, K. B., Soskin, W. F., & Korchin, S. J. (1975) Drug use among disaffected youth. Journal of Drug Education, 5, 193-203.Valois, R. F., Thatcher, W. G., Drane, J. W., & Reininger, B.M. (1997).Comparison of selected health risk behaviors between adolescents in public and private high schools in SouthCarolina. Journal of School Health, 67, 434-450.

AppendixPlease circle one:1.Sex: Male Female2. Year in School:FR SO JR SR3.What type of high school did you attend?Public Private Boarding Other (please specify): _______________4.Was your high school:Single sex male Single sex female Co-ed5. Was your high school:Catholic Non-Religious Other Religious(specify):____________________6. How often did you drink in high school? (by drinking we mean engaging and participating in activities involving alcohol consumption. Please skip this question if you never drank alcohol in high school)__________times/week7. How often do you drink at college? (Skip this question if you donít drink alcohol)_________times/week8. When you drink alcohol, how many drinks do you usually consume in one sitting (i.e. at each particular location you at which consume alcohol)? (skip this question if you never drink alcohol)_________alcoholic drinks9. Where do you go drinking? (select all that apply, skip this question if you do not drink alcohol)Bars Dorm Room Clubs Other .10. Where was your high school located?Suburbs Urban Inner-city Rural11. What was your high school gpa? (on a 4-point scale) 12. What do you expect your average grade in your classes to be this semester? (circle one)A B C D F13. Rate the academic difficulty of your high school in comparison to Loyola University on a scale of 1-10 (1 being your high school was a lot easier than Loyola, 10 being that your high school was as difficult or more difficult than Loyola.) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (easier) (harder)14. What is your major?__________________________________________ 15. Are you taking honors courses or regular or both?__________________ 16. How many hours are you taking this semester?12 15 18 other (please specify how many)_________17. How many hrs/week do you spend studying?__________hours/week18. How do you think youíre adjusting to college life socially? (on a scale of 1-10, 1 being not adjusting well at all and 10 being adjusting very well) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10(not adjusting well) (adjusting very well)19. How do you think youíre adjusting to college life academically? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10(not adjusting well) (adjusting very well)

Submitted 12/12/2002 10:35:40 AM
Last Edited 12/12/2002 10:40:38 AM
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