First Advisor

Birnbaum, Matthew

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Date Created



College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Leadership Policy and Development: Higher Education and P-12 Education, LPD Student Work


A majority of institutions of higher education in the U.S. rely primarily on traditional academic factors of high-school grade point average (HSGPA) and standardized test scores to admit students to undergraduate studies. Recent research has supported the use of noncognitive variables in conjunction with traditional factors in predicting college student success. This study sought to investigate further if the noncognitive variable of grit could predict first-year college grade point average (FYGPA), first semester persistence, and first year retention beyond existing pre-collegiate indicators. Previous studies involving grit on college students were completed at highly selective institutions or highly competitive environments such as military academies. Through a longitudinal study design, this study investigated grit on a sample of 544 first-year students at a regional research university in an effort to add to the literature of grit on a more traditional sample of college students. The grit score was collected utilizing the Grit-S short scale while demographics of ethnicity, PELL eligibility, first-generation status, and gender were collected through institutional research along with HSGPA and standardized test score. Tests of hierarchical multiple regression and binary logistic regression were employed to investigate the amount of variance explained in FYGPA and ability to predict persistence to second semester and retention to second year. This study found with statistical significance that grit did explain additional variance in FYGPA beyond traditional pre-collegiate indicators while controlling for demographic variables. Grit was also able to explain an equal amount of variance in FYGPA as standardized test score while controlling for demographics and HSGPA. This study did not find grit to be a predictor of persistence or retention. This research showed that grit may be a positive predictor of FYGPA and may increase the probability of predicting college success for students. These findings provide support in questioning the continued use of standardized test scores specifically by less selective institutions. Results of this study can assist enrollment managers and institutions of higher education to inform current admission practices and improve access to post-secondary education through noncognitive variables.


180 pages

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