The College Puzzle Blog
Prior PostingsAbout
Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

Students Can Take Steps to Enhance Chances for College Completion

In the last blog, I featured the study by Clifford Adelman called, The Toolbox Revisited, published in 2006 by the U.S. Department of Education.
www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.html.

His longitudinal use of student postsecondary transcript data (NEL 1988/2000) demonstrates that students can increase their probability of four year college completion by taking some specific steps. These steps apply whether a student starts at a four or two year institution.

1) Sooner is better than later. Start college right after high school graduation.
2) Take as many classes per semester as you can handle given other time demands (full-time is best)
3) Part-time attendance (less than 12 credits per semester) at any point proved to be detrimental to the ability of students to complete degrees. But continuous part-time enrollment is less damaging than excessive stop-out periods.
4) Earn at least four credits in the summer
5) Do not withdraw from or repeat courses unless it is absolutely necessary. No-penalty withdrawals hinder degree completion and may be the principal cause of increased time-to-degree.
6) If you have academic trouble in the first academic year, the second year is crucial because many students recapture their momentum in the second year and complete gateway courses in basic subjects.

Students are not passively passing through an academic pipeline to college completion. They can be active in creating their own path to college success.

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