Academic achievement in the first year of college: Evidence of the pervasive effects of the high school context

Gregory C. Wolniak, Mark E. Engberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study aims to improve our understanding of the postsecondary impacts of high schools by investigating whether or not exposure to different high school contexts may explain academic performance once in college. Drawing on a sample of 3,750 participants from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen, descriptive and multivariate analyses examine relationships between students' precollege characteristics, the high school context, and first year college grades. Results indicate that the quality of the high school infrastructure and exposure to violence at school-two operationalized dimensions of the high school context-affect first year college grades above and beyond precollege academic achievement and a variety of other background characteristics. Results also provide evidence of the conditional nature of these effects, where the high school context reinforces advantages of students with relatively greater economic resources prior to college. Implications for policy are discussed along with a call for a more holistic and interdependent perspective in examining the secondary-postsecondary nexus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-467
Number of pages17
JournalResearch in Higher Education
Volume51
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Academic achievement
  • College grades
  • First year of college
  • High school contexts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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