The Sense of Well-Being and Opportunity of America's Youth: Some Sources of Race and Sex Differences in Early Adolescence

William T Trent, James M. McPartland

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingTechnical report


This report examines the role of schools and "outside" social and economic influences in young people's lives, focusing particularly on the impact that participation in extracurricular activities has on racial tensions and students' self-images. It is based on data collected from a national sample of tenth graders in the 1980 "High School and Beyond" (HSB) survey sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics. Besides obtaining data on students' family background, the survey asked students to respond to a series of questions regarding their general sense of well-being, satisfaction with school, self-esteem, and sense of opportunity. Also examined was the racial composition of the students' schools. The report describes the distribution of student responses to questions regarding their sense of well-being and opportunity, and summarizes the areas where race and sex differences appear. Correlates of student variations on selected scales of satisfaction, self-esteem, and sense of efficacy are analyzed to determine the importance of school and non-school influences on these student outcomes. In addition, broad features of the school experience are distinguished for their apparent role in the process. The report concludes that participation in extracurricular activities does contribute to an improved sense of satisfaction and well-being for both blacks and whites, but does little to influence either the sense of personal efficacy or a positive self-image. Desegregated schools that maximize participation in extracurricular activities especially enhance black student participants' sense of well-being.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages27
StatePublished - 1982


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