The connection between academic achievement and dpression among adolescent girls and boys



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This dissertation applies the life course framework to understanding gender differences in the connection between academic performance and mental health. The premise for this study is based on the paradox that girls perform better in school but get less of a boost to their sense of well being from their achievement relative to boys. The life course perspective focuses both on how different pathways, such as academics and mental health, intertwine and the need to study important transitions, such as the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. This research addresses this transition by considering the consequences of the gender paradox on college enrollment and persistence. The quantitative analyses utilize Waves I, II, and III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Results indicate that academic performance and depression were positively correlated for girls and negatively correlated for boys. Adolescent gender differences in depression are driven by the high achieving segment of the student population because girls tend to get less of a mental health boost from earning good grades across the board. This is especially pronounced in high school. The end result is a slight chipping away at the well-documented advantages girls have in postsecondary education.