The Secrets of Succeeding in College

The biggest buzz last week in the higher-ed world was the release of a serious tome entitled, Crossing the Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities.

The book, which was co-authored by William G. Bowen, a former Princeton president, and two other academics is chock-a-block full of stats and astute observations about why many students manage to graduate from college, but millions of others don’t.  An alarming 44% of college students drop out.

Here are a couple of the authors’ conclusions that I found most fascinating:

1. While high school grade point averages are the biggest determinant of whether students will succeed in high school, it makes little difference where teenagers attend school.

A student who earns “A’s” and “B’s” at an inner city or rural high school should ultimately graduate from college just like the kids with similar grade point averages, who attend rigorous private and suburban high schools in affluent areas.

2. Students who graduate from high school with a 3.0 GPA are significantly more likely to graduate than kids who earn a 2.9 GPA or lower.

My only quibble with the book is that three academics wrote it, which means it’s loaded with stilted writing and loads of unnecessary acronyms. The authors, for instance, could have described UCLA and the University of Michigan as highly selective flagship schools, which everyone would understand, but instead they refer to these institutions as SEL I schools. To bad the publisher couldn’t have hired a journalist to tone down the pedantic verbiage that never takes a holiday in the 389-page book.

Unless you’re an academic who loves slogging through academic papers, you might want to read the book’s press clippings instead. Here are some links:

Which High School Students Are Most Likely to Graduate from College?

Graduation Rates:  Challenge, Expectations May Play a Role

(Not) Crossing the Finish Line

Colleges are Failing in Graduation Rates

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon.com bestseller.

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One Response to The Secrets of Succeeding in College

  1. Carmen November 4, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

    Too bad the wrong ‘too’ is used?

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