Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Differences between Leadership and Academic Scholarship Recipients' Retention and Cumulative Grade Point Averages

Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Differences between Leadership and Academic Scholarship Recipients' Retention and Cumulative Grade Point Averages

Article excerpt

This study examined differences in retention rates and college grade point average of two types of scholarship students. Selection criteria for Academic Scholarship recipients included high school grade point average and ACT scores while Leadership Scholarship criteria focused on leadership ability as demonstrated in high school and/or community extracurricular activities. No significant difference was found in college grade point average, however Leadership Scholars achieved higher retention rates. Results suggest that predictors of college involvement may be indirect predictors of college success. Implications for admission, scholarship selection, and intervention are discussed.

Predicting the success of college students has become an essential issue for higher education institutions and has received a fair amount of conflicting attention in the research literature. This type of research is important for institutional selectivity, scholarship allocation, and the development of appropriate interventions to increase the likelihood of college success in students who would not have been predicted to succeed. The traditional predictors of college achievement have been high school grade point average and college entrance examination scores (Hamilton, 1990; Pettijohn, 1995). These predictors, by themselves and in combination, have been the subjects of much research and criticism (Baron & Norman, 1992; Crouse & Trusheim, 1991; Stricken Rock, & Burton, 1996).

There is disagreement in the literature on the predictive value of traditional assessment tools (standardized exams and high school GPA). Some studies (Baron & Norman, 1992; Hamilton, 1990; Kaplan, 1992; Pettijohn, 1995; Sawyer & Maxey, 1979) have found that the traditional assessment tools were predictive while others (Grouse & Trusheim, 1991; Stricker et al., 1996) questioned the predictive validity of traditional assessment tools. There seems to be general agreement that a combination of high school GPA and standardized exams is a better predictor than standardized test scores alone (Kaplan, 1992; Sawyer & Maxey, 1979; Willingham & Breland, 1982). However, Crouse and Trusheim (1991) contend that the majority of students are admitted based on the predictive ability of their high school GPA alone. They claim the SAT exam only serves as a redundant item in the admissions process.

Mouw and Khanna (1993) found the best predictors of all variables tried still consisted of academic performance (HS rank) and a measure of academic aptitude (SAT/ACT scores). Unfortunately, "if the variable is dichotomized into 'failures' and 'non-failures' about thirty percent of the students that were predicted to succeed had failed. About 50% of the students that had been predicted to fail had either graduated or remained in good standing" (p. 333). While academic performance and aptitude may be the best predictors, they leave a large amount of error. Many institutions and researchers are exploring other qualities that might play a factor in the "college admission equation."

The study of sub-groups is an increasingly common approach. The increase in the number of ethnic minority college students encouraged researchers to examine current practices to find if they are as appropriate for minorities as they are for "White" students (Fuertes, Sedlacek, & Liu, 1994; Gerardi, 1990; Rodriquez, 1996). Due to a concern that college entrance exams and high school grade point averages may discriminate against minorities, predictors used were expanded. Hood (1992) looked at academic and noncognitive factors for Black men but concluded the best predictor of first-semester grades for Black men was their high school rank. Although it was the best predictor, the results only explained 10% of the variance.

Arbona and Novy (1990) used the Non-Cognitive Questionnaire (NCQ) to examine academic predictors for minority students. The NCQ assesses eight factors: certainty of academic plans, support for college plans, community involvement, long term academic goals, perseverance, expected academic difficulty, academic familiarity, and leadership. …

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