The Impact of the Transition to High School on the Self-System and Perceived Social Context of Poor Urban Youth

Edward Seidman, J. Lawrence Aber, LaRue Allen, Sabine Elizabeth French

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Examined the effects of the normative school transition to senior high school (n = 330) on the self-system and perceived school and peer social contexts of poor, black (n = 83), European American (n = 115), Latino (n = 105), and Asian American (n = 27) youth in the public school systems of three Eastern urban cities. The only negative effect of the school transition on the self-system was a decline in grade point average (GPA). Concurrently, the school transition was perceived to be associated with changes in the school and peer contexts. Across the transition, students reported increased disengagement from school (i.e., increased social support and extracurricular involvement) and increased engagement with peers (i.e., decreased daily hassles and increased involvement). These changes in the school and peer microsystems, like the changes in the self-system, were also common across race/ethnicity and gender. In addition, transition-associated school changes, and in particular changes in daily academic demands/hassles and involvement in school activities, were associated with changes in the academic dimensions of the self-system (i.e., academic efficacy expectations and GPA). Results and implications for preventive intervention are discussed within a developmental mismatch framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-515
Number of pages27
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1996


  • School transition
  • Social contexts
  • Urban youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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