Why Emotional Intelligence Is A Better Predictor of College Success Than High School Grades

Photo of college graduates at their ceremony

Can High School Grades Really Predict College Success?

Two 18-year old students start their community college courses this month. They both have good GPAs from the same high school and strong test scores. One will persist to graduate with a “2-year” degree four years from now, while the other will wash out. Why?

Historically, high school grades and assessment scores were relied upon as a predictor of success, but recently they’ve been proven to be an ineffective predictor of graduation. So what is left? If you are thinking of IQ, you would be wrong. The answer is emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is often defined as your ability to identify and manage your emotions and those of others. Mere awareness of emotions is not enough to succeed in higher education; also being able to manage those emotions is critical.

Emotional Intelligence In College

For our two transitioning high school graduates, it means navigating from the controlled environment of high school to the wide open world of college, where there are few—if any—adults monitoring and guiding their decisions. It’s that same freedom for which they have longed that is often their downfall.

When they struggle, colleges often respond with academic support in the form of course tutoring, but that might not be addressing the issue. Recent research points to the non-cognitive affective domain and characteristics such as self-efficacy, college student identity and mindfulness as better indicators of success.

WGU Study on Emotional Intelligence

That is exactly what Western Governors University (WGU) has discovered in their research.

WGU is the largest non-profit institution of higher education in the United States, with over 65,000 students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees. In partnership with theAcademy of College Excellence and 5 Dynamics, WGU developed a course to address their students’ affective domain growth, their emotional intelligence for being a successful college student by building a self-supported peer network.

Their research suggests their students have developed a deeper learning and connection among their peers. They believe that they are college students, and it turns out that makes all the difference.

Understanding Your Own Emotional Intelligence

Unlike many personality assessments, 5 Dynamics methodology was created in the world of education to better understand how students learn. Understanding how your mind is wired to perceive the world is a powerful discovery, whether it comes in your freshman year of college or after 20 years of corporate life.

Taking the next step—understanding others’ learning preferences and how you can influence and support their learning—is the critical component. Realizing that we are in this together, be it a college experience or corporate life, brings humanity to the struggle.

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