Students’ Perceptions of Factors that Contribute to Risk and Success in Accelerated High School Courses

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2015


stress, coping, personal traits, environmental factors, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



In this qualitative study, we investigated 15 successful and 15 struggling high school students, perceived stressors, coping strategies, and intrapersonal and environmental factors that students perceive to influence their success in college-level courses. We found that students’ primary sources of stress involved meeting numerous academic demands and seeking a balance between academic goals, social needs, and extracurricular activities. The most frequently described and commonly used coping responses viewed as effective involved time and task management, seeking temporary diversions, and cognitive reappraisal. Students perceived a strong work ethic and high achievement motivation as personal traits aligned with success, and support from a broad network of peers, parents, and teachers as environmental factors that are also related to optimal performance in rigorous accelerated high school programs.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

The High School Journal, v. 98, issue 2, p. 109-137