High School Student Success Leads to Student Success in College

Admissions Test Scores vs. High School Grades –

Test-Optional admissions has become more of a trend at colleges and universities.  Of course, there are many pros and cons for students AND admissions offices of “test-optional” admission practices.  One of the more interesting facts, in my opinion, in a recent study featured on NPR was that students are more successful based on their completed courses and grades in high school than their scores on admission tests they completed.

[blockquote source=”NPR.org“]The study has another clear result: High school grades matter — a lot. For both those students who submitted their test results to their colleges and those who did not, high school grades were the best predictor of a student’s success in college. And kids who had low or modest test scores, but good high school grades, did better in college than those with good scores but modest grades.

Hiss says it’s probably not so surprising that a pattern of hard work, discipline and curiosity in high school shows up “as highly predictive, in contrast to what they do in three or four hours on a particular Saturday morning in a testing room.”[/blockquote]

What I found interesting is the fact that specific high school course interest and success was a better predictor to a student’s success.  Should that also be a key indicator for what major a student should select and how successful they will be?  Think about it…studying and completing assignments on time, attending class, listening to your professor, classroom activities, having presentations and putting in the extra work is something that you HAVE to do to most of the time to get an excelling grade in a specific course.  Not only that but you have to actually enjoy the class if it is a prerequisite, so you can complete other courses towards your degree.  You are also building key characteristics and skills that will help you in your career and get promoted one day.

Of course, we all know that one roommate or team partner that slacked off all semester, didn’t listen, skipped class, but then pulled an all-nighter and somehow got a B+ on their final.  ARGHHH.  I’m not saying anything is wrong with this by being a great test taker (I mean I might have done this once or twice pulling an all-nighter) but…students should be considered on their grades, test scores, and work ethic.  Their plans should be based on their academic achievements, aptitude, interests and personality, students should select their future major and college if it is the best fit for them.

Admissions officers are dealing with more and more applications each year, especially since it’s easier than ever to apply online.  This makes the admissions  process more difficult on who to select and who to reject.  Having a standardized test to evaluate all students no matter where they went to secondary school can help level the playing field, but what makes a student successful to admit?



Student success relies on hard work and high achieving grades in their specific courses for their intended major.  These features will keep the student aligned for success later on in their degree and career.   20% of students are not returning sophomore year, which makes more the reason to find the right students early on and keep them on a successful completion plan.  Student Success programs need to keep students happy on campus and help them stay connected to the right programs.

Many students take interest inventories or personality tests to see if their interests match up to the right major and college, but let’s get serious…just because I love people, enjoy science and have a 2.9 GPA…my chances are pretty slim to none to getting accepted to a biology major at my reach school.  I might want to look at a more realistic major and college that is a better match.  Completing an assessment that measures academic achievements with interests and personality will help the student create a realistic and strong plan for their future post-secondary options.

At the end of the day advisors, influencers and admissions counselors need to help students succeed and find their right fit early on, so they are prepared for the next step in life.  Student’s need to make sure they are staying on top of the coursework, putting in the effort and avoiding senioritis at all costs.


I have been working in the education industry since 2008. Our mission is to help each student find the right major and complete their degree.

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