It turns out that the missing ingredient could be the friends a child keeps, specifically their in-school friends, the ones who sweat the same tests and homework and complain about the same teachers, rather than those they may make outside of school.
UCLA professor of psychiatry and senior study author Andrew J. Fuligni and first author Melissa R. Witkow, a former graduate student of Fuligni’s, report in the online edition of the Journal of Research on Adolescence that adolescents with more in-school friends than out-of-school friends had higher grade-point averages and — complementing this finding — that those with higher GPAs had more in-school friends.
The authors found that these associations were similar for boys and girls and cut across all ethnic groups.
Drawing from three Los Angeles-area high schools, the researchers recruited 629 12th-grade students, split almost evenly by sex, with an average age of 18; no single ethnic group predominated. The students filled out a questionnaire, then kept a diary in which they logged such activities as time spent studying, time spent with in-school or out-of-school friends, and other activities.
Roughly speaking, the more in-school friends a child had, the higher the GPA.
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