Toward college completion: A study of “non-cognitive” attitudes held by incoming freshmen

Jo Hillman

March 5, 2013

A photograph of a college student who would take a non-cognitive attitudes assessment to help guide their college or university campus.
Use non-cognitive student attitude data in a number of ways on your campus to improve college completion rates and overall student success.

Each year, Noel-Levitz releases the National Freshman Attitudes Report, a summary of the self-reported attitudes of incoming college students that may pose barriers or opportunities for degree persistence and college completion. These “non-cognitive” findings go beyond the usual test scores and high school transcripts to provide an overview of how students’ attitudes, motivations, and college preparation are changing from year to year. Non-cognitive factors are important to consider, and in the newly-released 2013 National Freshman Attitudes Report, we identify a number of ways these data can be used to inform and guide your campus.

Use non-cognitive student assessment data on your campus to:

  1. Guide institutional planning
    Assess the shifting motivations of incoming students as they relate to campus services, course offerings, strategic enrollment planning, and more.
  2. Identify non-cognitive differences between student populations
    Address the challenges of specific populations with customized strategies that take into account each group’s unique attitudes.
  3. Develop a more holistic view of incoming students and their college readiness
    There is increasing pressure for higher education professionals to look past traditional college-readiness measurements like grades and test scores, and instead develop systems that take into account non-cognitive factors.
  4.  Connect coursework and career aspirations
    Many students report a lack of self-discipline and a willingness to abandon their studies. Using non-cognitive attitudinal data, you can assess the prevalence of these issues (as well as identify specific majors or other populations that are most susceptible) and help counteract them.
  5. Create ways to address student financial concerns
    Which students on your campus have the most pressing financial concerns? How can you help them balance these external factors and their academic careers?

These ideas touch on ways that non-cognitive attitudes can become a vital part of your campus planning and intervention strategies. In addition to the aggregate data, having student-specific attitudinal data allows your leadership team to identify and target specific at-risk students.

Download the full report for free from our Web site for the national benchmarks and further insights on the data. If you’d like to discuss these findings or measure non-cognitive attitudes on your campus, please contact me.

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Enrollment, Student Success