Social concerns of teens can affect academic success

By Kim Buckley, NewsNetNebraska

The social life of teenagers play a role in how well high school students do academically, a sociologist said during a lecture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on Wednesday.

Robert Crosnoe, from the University of Texas at Austin, said social pressure can negatively impact teen development.

High school is the prime real estate of teen development,” he said.

Crosnoe researched teens and bullying by interviewing high school students. He then published his findings in the book “Fitting In, Standing Out: Navigating the Social Challenges of High School to Get an Education.”

During the lecture, Crosnoe talked about the different reasons why some teens are ostracized. They are pressured to fit in, he said, indirectly affecting whether they go to college.

Crosnoe said his research found that the odds of going to college decreased as the number of feelings of not fitting in increased.

The experiences teens have affect what courses they enroll in high schools, he said. If they have a problem, then they might do badly in a course or not advance to the next level of the course. It’s the affect on academic progress in high school that decreases the odds of going to college, Crosnoe said.

People are really quick to dismiss the social concerns of high school students, and I’m just trying to say that one reason why those social concerns shouldn’t be dismissed is because they do affect the academic bottom line of high school,” he said.

High school experiences could also impact how prepared they were to do well academically in college, Crosnoe added.

That is one case of when even though you’re past high school, you’re past all of that, it can still be affecting you right now,” he said.

During the lecture, Crosnoe also talked about teens and identity. He said teenagers also tend to look to social influences to figure out their identities.

As they grow up, they become less likely to do that and so when they go to college, they grow out of that,” Crosnoe said.

These experiences could affect how college students approach relationships and connections, he said. Crosnoe said there is evidence there is a legacy of high school experiences on social interactions throughout life, but it’s not as bad as in high school.

“By-and-large they do fine,” he added.

However, for teenagers, Crosnoe said that you can’t talk to them about identity without talking about their friends.

“It’s hard to talk to teens about their friends because they tend to romanticize their friendships,” he said.

Despite that, Crosnoe said that he doesn’t think that teenagers are mindless followers.

Teenagers are also taking advantage of social media in their quest to find their identities, Crosnoe said.

Facebook is a way of connecting and managing your identity, he said, adding that it is relatively safe place to try on different personas and see what sticks. For instance, they can try on a persona and get feedback from their friends.

It’s all about identity and not social connections, no matter what they say,” he said.

Here are some highlights from the event. 

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