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Why High School Grades Are Not The Best Indicator of Success in College

A study conducted at Harvard University in 2011 called Pathways to Prosperity showed that just 56% of students completed a four year degree within six years. Only 29% of students who started a two year degree program completed it within three years.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in its report: Education at a Glance 2010, among the eighteen countries it tracked, the United States finished last (at 46%) for the percentage of students who completed college once they start. That puts the United States behind Japan (89%), former Soviet Socialist Republic Slovakia (63%) and Poland (61%).

For adult students (18 and over), the Apollo Research Institute conducted a study and discovered the top 6 psychosocial issues most frequently experienced by college students are:
1. Anxiety and stress over college-related expenses. (71.3%)
2. Anxiety about not spending time with their loved ones. (58.5%)
3. Worrying about their intellectual ability to complete their courses. (51.5%)
4. Stress because classes interfere with their normal routine. (49.1%)
5. Fear that earning a degree is needed to prove their competence. (42%)
6. Resentment over doing coursework instead of something more interesting. (40.4%)

Former UCLA Administrator Chip Anderson noted: “more students leave college because of disillusionment, discouragement or reduced motivation than because of lack of ability or dismissal by school administration.”

If you are the parent of a college-bound high school senior, you must have concerns over whether your child will make it all the way through, and with that, whether the significant investment will have been worth it. Even college graduates aren’t guaranteed success in today’s rapidly changing job market.

Students, if college has always been your dream, but you have concerns over whether you will be as successful – both academically and socially – in college as you were in high school, read on!

While academic ability is probably the best indicator of academic success in college, we know today that college is much, much more than just getting good grades. Students are entering an unknown world when they go to college. Here are just a few of the significant differences college freshmen will experience:

• Social independence – the likelihood of all your friends attending the same college is slim, so you will have to build a new group of social contacts.
• Stress – the academic requirements for college are much more rigorous than high school, even if you took AP courses. You will have to have time management and self-motivation skills to be able to juggle all your classes and do well.
• Impulse Control – your parents will not be there to catch you if you fall, or warn you about potential dangers. While this may sound AWESOME right now, there are times when parental guidance comes in handy.

If a student has attended a large high school in a highly populated city or town, then they probably have some skills that will transfer and benefit them in college. But what if they don’t? How will an 18 year-old learn to be independent, self-sufficient and responsible? Can they learn these skills before heading off to college?
Yes, it is possible!

Unlike cognitive intelligence (IQ), which is set by the time a person is 17, emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) can be developed and improved at any age. The first step is to identify where a person is weak and where they are strong, and how these factor into their overall emotional intelligence. This is accomplished through a 133 question assessment that takes only 20 minutes to complete, called the EQ-i 2.0. A comprehensive report is generated shortly after completion, and the report shows how a student is likely to function at college.

I am a certified Emotional Intelligence consultant, have 12 years experience teaching high school history, and have been in education management for 10 years. Using the EQ-i 2.0 assessment and report, I help high school seniors identify the essential skills and abilities they need to successfully adapt to the college environment.

There are 15 competencies that make up the Emotional Intelligence EQ-i 2.0 model. They are:
1. Self-regard
2. Self-actualization
3. Emotional self-awareness
4. Emotional expression
5. Assertiveness
6. Independence
7. Interpersonal relationships
8. Empathy
9. Social responsibility
10. Problem solving
11. Reality testing
12. Impulse control
13. Flexibility
14. Stress tolerance
15. Optimism

These competencies translate into skills like (just a small sample):
• Being able to develop a social support network.
• Being able to adjust to new academic expectations.
• Being able to acquire the intrinsic motivation for accomplishing personal and career goals.

I decided to focus on college-bound high school seniors not only because of my background and experience with this group, but also because I want to help students adapt to the environmental demands and pressures of the college environment successfully so they can have a satisfying and valuable college experience. I believe investing in the emotional development of students greatly impacts leadership effectiveness, both during college and for the rest of their lives. Emotional competency development benefits the career development process by promoting a successful transition from home to college, and from college to the professional world.

In my coaching practice currently, and in my past roles as a manager in a corporate setting, I have worked with many clients who are unhappy, unfulfilled and disillusioned by their current career. They feel ill-prepared for the non-subject matter realities of the workplace, and often leave their first job after a short period of time (1-2 years).

By working with students using the EQ-i 2.0 assessment as a jumping off point, I am able to help them identify their weaknesses, leverage their strengths and develop an action plan to send them off to college prepared academically, socially and emotionally.

For more information on the EQ-i 2.0 and Gina Zappariello, MS, log onto:

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