College Preparation Beyond GPA and Standardized Tests

College Preparation
Beyond GPA and
OpInform 2015
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The Purpose of this Presentation
 To provide awareness of non-cognitive student
characteristics and how they contribute to
college student success.
 To share how some college admissions offices
measure non-cognitive characteristics.
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Cognitive vs. Non-Cognitive
 Cognitive variables measure an individual’s
prior performance through high school GPA,
standardized test scores, coursework, rigor,
etc. Typically on a numeric scale and can be
compared between candidates.
 Non-cognitive variables relate to adjustment,
motivation, and perception.
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What are Non-Cognitive Student
 Refer to non-academic abilities and are connected
to student motivation, attitudes, behaviors, and
ability to adjust.
 Standardized achievement tests do not measure
non-cognitive characteristics.
 Some examples include:
Student Strengths Inventory (SSI)
Non-Cognitive Characteristics
Self Efficacy
Academic Engagement
Social Comfort
Campus Engagement
Educational Commitment
• Confidence in academic ability.
• “I expect to do well in school so I will.”
• Work ethic and motivation.
• “I always study and submit homework on time.”
• The student’s approach to stressful situations.
• “I try to take care of problems immediately.”
• The student’s comfort with social situations.
• “I have the ability to make friends quickly.”
• The student’s willingness to become involved.
• “I’m involved in many extracurricular activities.”
• The student’s commitment to college.
• “A college education is important to me.”
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Situational Judgement Index
Knowledge, learning,
mastery of general
Continuous learning,
intellectual interest and
Artistic and cultural
appreciation and
Multicultural tolerance
and appreciation
Interpersonal skills
Social responsibility,
citizenship and
Physical and
psychological health
Career orientation
Adaptability and life skills
Ethics and integrity
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Sedlacek’s Non-Cognitive Variables
Positive Self Concept
Realistic Self Appraisal
Preference for Long-Term Goals
Availability of a Strong Support Person
Significant or Successful Leadership Experience
Demonstrated Community Service
Knowledge Acquired in a Field
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Why are they important?
 Non-cognitive student characteristics account for
10 – 15% of the predictive variance toward college
performance (Robbins et al, 2004).
 Non-cognitive characteristics are also connected to
career performance and life satisfaction.
 Research suggests that non-cognitive characteristics
are stronger predictors of college success for lowachieving, low income, first-generation students.
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5 – 8%
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Why are they Important?
 For Students
 For Counselors
 For Colleges
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Benefits for Students
 Many non-cognitive characteristics may be
learned (Campus Labs, 2013; Robbins, et al,
2004; Sedlacek, 1993).
 Enhancements will increase the likelihood of
college success.
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Benefits for High School Counselors
 Many non-cognitive characteristics may be
taught (Campus Labs, 2013).
 Provides other ways to bolster career readiness.
 Imparts hope for students who have
underperformed - especially on standardized
 Colleges are catching on…
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Benefits for Colleges
 Enhances ability to identify college-ready
 Increases understanding of the non-cognitive
challenges students will face.
 Success in college is not just a classroom issue.
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How do College’s measure Non-Cognitive
College essays
Letters of recommendation
College interviews
Follow up letters and emails
High school transcripts (*sometimes)
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Building Self Efficacy
Developing Academic Engagement
Fostering Resilient Students
Nurturing Social Engagement
Enhancing Campus Engagement
Raising Educational Commitment
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Campus Labs. (2013). Using non-cognitive factors of Beacon in advising. Buffalo, NY: Campus Labs. Retrieved on
February 13, 2015 from:
Robbins, S. B., Lauver, K., Le, H., Davis, D., & Langley, R. (2004). Do psychosocial and study skill factors predict
college outcomes? A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 130(2), 261-288. doi: 10.1037/00332909.130.2.261
Sedlacek, W. E. (1993). Employing noncognitive variables in admissions and retention in higher education. In
Achieving diversity: Issues in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented racial/ethnic students in
higher education (pp. 33-39). Alexandria VA: National Association of College Admission Counselors.
Staltonstall, M. (2013). Predicting college success: Achievement, demographic, and psychosocial predictors of firstsemester college grade point average (Doctoral dissertation). Northern Arizona University, Arizona.
Ting, S. R. (2003). A longitudinal study of non-cognitive variables in predicting academic success of first-generation
college students. College and University, 78(4) 27-31. Retrieved from
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