As recent high school graduates prepare this summer for their fall entry into college, newly published research sheds light on how students can succeed in higher education. In a National Science Foundation commissioned report titled, “Supporting Students’ College Success: The Role of Assessment of Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Competencies”, the co-authors identified the factors that can improve educational attainment. Across 49 studies, three competencies most frequently showed evidence of supporting persistence and success in college, as measured by grades, retention, and graduation:
- A sense of belonging
- A growth mindset
- Establishment of personal values and goals.
The first competency, a sense of belonging, refers to students’ feeling that they belong in college, fit in well, and are socially integrated. With a growth mindset, the second competency, students see their own intelligence as being malleable rather than fixed. They believe their intelligence is a fluid quality that their college studies can help improve. Personal goals and values, the third competency, relate to students’ perceptions of their college experience. Studies have demonstrated direct links between students who value (and do not take for granted) their college education and the future attainment of a personal goal (e.g., a chosen career). All three competencies were shown to have positive impacts on final course grades and overall GPA. This research underlines the importance of attending a college that fits well with a student’s strengths and needs.