This research project attempts to estimate the predictive value of SAT/ACT scores and high school achievement for success in a college honors program at a private urban university. Studies indicate that high school GPA may not be a good predictor of the students’ performance in college. This is because some students come from specialized schools with a rigorous curriculum, while others perhaps get involved in too many extracurricular activities or take too many AP/IB and other College level courses. In all these cases, students may come in with a lower GPA and thus would not make a cut to the Honors College. At the same time, students who come from an “easy” school may have a higher GPA. This project will attempt to see how High School Average, SAT/ACT scores, the number of AP/IB and other college level courses taken in high school, the grade point average in those courses, and the quality of the high school affect Honors’ students’ performance. We also explore how scores on different SAT sections (math and verbal) or ACT sections (English, Math, Science) may affect college students’ outcomes. Our unique data come from the Pforzheimer Honor College at Pace University, NYC on about 300 students who were admitted by the College in 2014 and 2015. We use regression analysis to estimate the effect of different predictive factors on the College GPA and the probability of graduating with Honors.
After running regressions to see which of our independent variables most strongly correlated with success in Honors, we realized that none of the factors we were considering affected success in Honors. We believe our issue was that we were trying to explain success by individual components. To attempt to solve the problem, we created a composite index with four categories that encompass four different aspects of success: learning, research, leadership, and professional career. Each category will have a value of 0-3. The theoretical maximum is 12. The GPA is added to the index, so the theoretical maximum of the CIS is 16. We are still in the process of analyzing the results using this new methodology of defining our independent variable.
Overall, I have greatly enjoyed my experience thus far working with Professor Shostya. I have gained a comprehensive understanding of what goes into a research project including question and procedure development, literature review, data collection, and the use of Stata to run regressions and analyze data. I am looking forward to continuing this project and bringing it to completion.
Over the past few weeks, Professor Shostya and I have been gathering data from Banner on the recently-graduated classes of the honors college. We were searching for information like high school GPA, SAT/ ACT scores, number of college-level classes taken and scores on each respective exam, as well as demographic data such as gender, domestic or international birth, and ability to speak a second language. We have also conducted a literature review in which we read several research papers exploring similar topics and recorded important information to better understand what has already been researched and what is yet to be discovered.
After finalizing our data set on Excel, we imported our spreadsheet into Stata, and began running Probit regressions to observe the effect of our independent variables on our single dependent variable- graduating with honors. Much to our suspicion, none of our independent variables correlated significantly with our dependent variable. In other words, the academic factors we observed such as grades and standardized test scores had virtually no effect on whether or not a student graduated from our honors college. Although this is a challenge in that we have no significant data or analyses at this point, this was also an important discovery. Moving forward, we will be changing our definition of success to a more well-rounded one including not only graduation with honors, but also job offers upon graduation, internships throughout college, awards, research, and comments from a thesis adviser, as some authors included in our literature review did.
The fact that the very factors we rely the most on to decide a student’s acceptance to college are completely insignificant is surprising. This raises questions like “Why do we use these factors if they really do not impact a student’s success?” and “How can we change our admissions process to predict applicants’ success here and accept those who are more likely to stay at and ‘succeed’ in Pforzheimer Honors College?” Despite the obstacle that we have encountered, I am looking forward to using our creativity to come up with new and better ways to predict the overall success of applicants at Pace University’s honors college.
I have been working with Dr. Shostya on a research project called The Pursuit of Excellence: Evaluation of the Honors Admission Requirements at a Private University. The purpose of our project is to determine what factors correlate strongly with a student’s success at Pace University, which we defined as graduating with honors. The goal of this research is to utilize our findings to enhance the admissions process for the Pforzheimer Honor’s College. This research will give us insight into which part of a student’s application should be more heavily focused on when determining admission into the honors college, and will consequentially increase our retention rate and the improve the quality of the program.
The first step of our research was to ask a question: Which admission criteria determine Honors students’ success at a private university, like Pace? The second step will be to conduct a review of literature to explore what has been done on our topic thus far. Next, we will build a model based on what we found from theory and empirical studies and will collect data from our own Honors College database.
Through this experience, I intend to learn how to utilize Microsoft Excel on a more advanced level and gain exposure to Stata, a program that we will be using to analyze our data. I look forward to applying the knowledge I learned in my statistics class to the real world, and understanding the practical applications of the theories and formulas we covered in class. Additionally, I hope to benefit our university by focusing on admitting students who are statistically more likely to thrive here. This will not only improve our national rankings, but will also boost student morale around campus.