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The Academic Behaviors Needed to Meet College Readiness Standards

written by: Stephanie Torreno•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/7/2011

The term ‘college readiness’ covers abilities students need to succeed on campus. Some abilities relate to academic knowledge, while others include behaviors drawn from study habits and students themselves. Continue reading to learn about the behaviors necessary to meet college readiness standards.

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    Components of College Readiness Standards

    Many students think maintaining a high grade point average (GPA) in high school and earning a good SAT/ACT score will prepare them well for college. However, according to David Conley of the Educational Improvement Policy Center, high school GPAs and standardized tests scores do not accurately match indicate college readiness standards. Conley proposes a more comprehensive definition of college readiness to include four components necessary for college success, or being prepared to take freshman courses without remedial classes. The four components of Conley’s definition of college readiness include key cognitive strategies, academic skills and knowledge, academic behaviors, and contextual skills and awareness.

    Key cognitive strategies involve the intellectual abilities and behaviors to access, read, interpret, and articulate (usually in writing) thoughts and knowledge. Critical thinking and problem solving fall under this component. Academic skills and knowledge includes the knowledge of core academic subjects and the skill to research and write about them at the college level. While academic behaviors include self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control and will be discussed further below, contextual skills and awareness represent an understanding of how the college system works. This includes the formal and informal knowledge and information essential to gain admissions to and navigate within the higher educational system. These four components are not mutually exclusive, but they are connected to each other in that one can affect college success even if an individual possesses the others. A student, for example, may have extensive academic knowledge, but lack the ability to articulate it in writing.

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    Academic Behaviors Necessary for Reaching College Readiness Standards

    Self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control are skills or behaviors required for individuals to be ready for college. The premise behind these behaviors in college is simple. College students have more independent study time than in high school and have to manage their time wisely. Time management includes estimating how long assignments take, and knowing how and where students study most effectively. Successful college students use calendars and to-do lists to schedule productive studying time around work opportunities and socializing. Study skill behaviors also involve knowing how to take lecture notes, how to use information resources, and how to prepare for and take exams. Effective communication skills are also necessary when interacting with professors and advisors.

    An understanding of the individual self is self-awareness. In college, a deep self-awareness helps individuals identify who they are and when they may be feeling stressed or overwhelmed. As students will be experiencing new freedom along with new pressures, self-awareness can guide them to better time management techniques, such as prioritizing study time, in relation to other activities.

    Self-monitoring allows an individual to evaluate about how one is progressing. This skill assists students by helping them become aware of their current level of mastery of a subject. This skill also enables them to reflect on how they succeeded in learning, and what they will require to continue to improve academically. Self-monitoring gives a student the ability to persist when presented with a new or difficult challenge, and to brainstorm learning strategies to accomplish an academic task.

    Another one of the academic behaviors is self-control. College students will face all types of new pressures inside and outside the classroom, from earning good grades to risky behaviors among peers. With these pressures should come a sense of responsibility and self-control. Students need to realize that while college can include fun activities and social experiences, they are there to learn and invest in their future. They will only get out of their education what they put into it.

    When thinking about academic behaviors necessary in reaching college readiness standards, students should know they can develop these early in high school. Developing effective study habits, practicing good decision making, and taking responsibility for their education will foster college readiness. Familiarizing themselves with the entire college process will additionally ready students to take the next step – on campus.

    Source: Conley, D. (2007). Redefining college readiness. Retrieved on April 9, 2010, from