The X factor in college success

6a010536aec25c970b01bb08c92674970dHigh school graduation rates have reached an all-time high in recent years (82%)—that’s the good news. But there appears to be a not-so-silver lining: Once they get to college, those same graduates seem to have a harder time, with only about 59% completing their four-year degrees within five years.

In the latest Research Says column in ASCD’s Educational Leadership, McREL’s Bryan Goodwin and Heather Hein examine the elusive “X factor” of student success, those characteristics not neatly tied to high school GPAs or college entrance exam scores.

The authors uncover some promising predictors that have emerged in the research on “soft skills”: Successful students appear to exhibit three characteristics—a “can-do” attitude, or feeling able to learn and achieve goals; self-discipline and study habits, including not only how they apply themselves but also their attitudes toward studying; and active learning, or continuing to engage with others in what they’re learning outside of class.

While this evidence provides some clues, it by no means provides a complete picture of what it takes to succeed in college, Goodwin and Hein say. However, what it does offer is hope that, at any point in their academic careers, students can change not only their habits and attitudes but also their outcomes.

Read the entire column.

Posted by McREL International.

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