Beyond Academic Readiness: Building a Broader Range of Skills for Success in College

Original Source: Nagaoka, J. & Holsapple, M. A. (2017). “Beyond Academic Readiness: Building a Broader Range of Skills for Success in College”. UCHICAGO Consortium on School Research – Consortium Publications.
Subject: College Readiness
Research question/s: Why do students struggle in the transition from high school to college?
Motivation/s: This report is part of a series that encourages high schools and higher education to share responsibility for increasing the number of students who are prepared to enter college and earn a postsecondary credential. The goal is to align grade 12 more closely to the first year of college by collaborating in a few key areas: co-design a set of courses, experiences, and support services that connect high school and college; co-deliver them as much as possible; and co-validate the content and skills to be learned over these two years.

1.     Research over the past decade demonstrates that college completion requires a lot more than just academic preparation.

2.     While high school grades are a reliable predictor of college outcomes, the authors point out that grades reflect more than academic knowledge and skills alone. For example, they often depend on whether students attend class regularly, complete homework, participate in discussions, and perform well on assignments and tests.

3.     Grades have much to do with student behavior, motivation, engagement in learning, and the noncognitive factors that support these things. These factors also tend to serve students well when they get to college, regardless of their level of content knowledge.

4.     Recent research also shows that the process of entering college is complex and each step—from learning about the range of schools that exists to completing applications, applying for financial aid, selecting a school to attend, and choosing appropriate classes—can present a significant hurdle. For first-generation college students, especially, the experience can be daunting, as well as expensive and time-consuming. In order to get through all of these steps, students require not just knowledge about the college world, but several important noncognitive factors. These include being able to manage time, regulate one’s behavior, set goals, and follow through on them.

Keywords: College Readiness
Type: Technical Paper (also available as an Executive Summary)
Status of the Work: Published