News Release 

Factors linked to college aspirations, enrollment, and success


Research News

A recent study has identified certain factors associated with a greater likelihood that a high school student will decide to attend college, enroll in college the fall semester immediately following high school graduation, and then return to that same college a year later as a retained college student.

The study, which is published in the Journal of Counseling & Development, found that high school seniors will be much more likely to decide to go to college if they develop both a college-going aspirational identity and a personally held goal to achieve greater levels of postsecondary education. Similarly, they're more likely to enroll in college if they set higher postsecondary educational goals for themselves.

Returning as a retained college student the second year was primarily shaped by three factors: the environmental characteristics of the college were supportive of the students; the students had developed some financial certainty as to how they were going to pay for college before leaving high school; and as twelfth graders, the students had made a strong personal commitment to graduate from the college they had chosen to attend.

"Making an informed decision about which college to attend is more important than ever, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic," said co-author Richard T. Lapan, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. "This research study advantages students and their families by identifying factors related to student success in the transition to college."


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