A college education comes with a hefty price tag, so it comes as no surprise that students are often pressured to succeed. Despite the large expense, college enrollement in the United States is increasing. However, college completion rates are far behind many other developed countries. Here’s three factors, backed by research, that may help you find greater success in college: a sense of belonging, a growth mindset, and personal goals and values.

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These factors come from a new national report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Authors of the report reviewed 49 articles targeting studies that examined interventions to improve educational attainment (the highest level of education an individual has achieved). In the studies, students’ success was measured by grades, retention, and graduation.

Sense of Belonging

A feeling of fitting in and being socially integrated with the community supports students and gives them a greater chance to succeed. A majority of the studies that measured students’ sense of belonging found that this factor had a positive impact on their college grade point averages (GPAs).

Growth Mindset

Do you believe you can change basic personal qualities, such as intelligence and character? If so, you have a growth mindset. If you believe these qualities can’t be changed, you probably have a fixed mindset. The report found that most of the studies that measured students’ growth mindset, identified it as having a positive impact on students’ college GPAs. Students who possess a growth mindset about intelligence tend to have goals that involve learning and mastering challenging academic material, according to a publication by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Personal Goals And Values

Setting personal goals, both short and long-term, provides a number of benefits including better motivation, a higher chance of achievement, and a clearer focus. A majority of the studies measuring personal goals showed it helped students achieve higher final course grades.

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Fred Oswald, co-author of the report, noted that tools that measure intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies like the three factors noted in the report should be held to more rigorous standards just like the SAT or ACT, according to a news release.

“Many current assessments of these competencies fall short in providing solid statistical evidence supporting their reliability and validity,” Oswald said. “It is important to investigate these measures carefully, for example, because students can differ in how they interpret the meaning of rating scales, or sometimes they feel pressured to present themselves in the best light.”

Oswald and his colleagues recommend further research, in collaboration with higher education institutions, be done in order to better understand the factors that contribute to greater educational attainment and to find new ways to track intrapersonal and interpersonal characteristics among college students.

The report is titled,”Supporting Students’ College Success: The Role of Assessment of Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Competencies.”

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