As I sit down and begin reading Increasing Persistence by Habley, Bloom, and Robbins, I start to realize just how many factors really play into student success. I know that we have talked about it MILLIONS (literally millions) of times during class but seeing the statistics and research really makes a bold statement. This week’s reading really gave some perspective that I had never thought of but also reaffirmed what I already knew.
For instance, the chapter of student engagement was fairly basic for me. I work in the Office of Student Life on campus. I know that student engagement, leadership, and service to the community make a student more likely to persist. I know this because I see it play out five-days a week in the office. I know that my students are more likely to do well in their courses than others because they have a reason to succeed beside themselves. Most of my students have to have a 2.5 or higher to keep their position. This is a motivator for them.
However, the chapters on academic preparation and psychosocial characteristics were something relatively new for me. It was not that I did not realize the importance of these two things. It was more that I just had not really put a name to the two. Of course it makes sense that retention and persistence is correlated with how well a student does in high school. If a student is not motivated in high school he or she probably will not be highly motivated by the free living lifestyle that college offers. Also, if a student is having troubles with believing he or she should be in college, he or she is less likely to stay there. Self-concept and support from peers and family are very important factors that play into a student’s success.
For me, once I found my niche at Wisconsin, persisting was not hard. I was right where I wanted to be with the people I wanted to be with. I was able to motivate myself. I consider myself very lucky. However, before I got there, I was extremely unhappy. However, based on all the factors I read about today, as a student affairs professional I would have never pegged myself as a student with persistence issues. If I was administering a MAPs Test at BSU to myself, I would have scored in the low risk category. However, as everyone who knows my persistence story will tell you, I was more than a risk. I guess my story just goes to show that not all predictors of success are real. It isn’t a science. Some people can’t succeed in college without even trying. Some people, like myself, really had to work at it.