Understanding student academic performance differences in college based on Advanced Placement college credits earned in high school: A comparison between Honors and non-Honors students
D'Aquino, Erik A.
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Since their development in the early twentieth century Honors Programs and Colleges within Higher Education serve a variety of functions; from attracting academically talented students to an institution for the purposes of increasing the institutional profile to providing an opportunity for those students to achieve their potential. However, the challenge has always been how to identify the student that will benefit and succeed from an honors curriculum. In many cases students are identified based on their high school average and standardized test score. In many cases, such as this study here, this admissions model can lead to a higher attrition rate of student that cannot maintain the grades necessary to stay within their program. This study focused on students who were enrolled in the Honors College at the State University of New York At Buffalo between the years of 2006-2008. The purpose of this study was to determine if Advanced Placement college credits earned in high school serve as a better predictor of grade point average during their undergraduate academic career. Instead of the traditional metrics of high school grade point average and standardized test scores. This quantitative study analyzed the entire population of undergraduate students admitted for the 2006-2008 academic years. That population was initially categorized by their scholarly community they were invited to participate in (Honors College, University Scholars, Ackers Scholars, and those not enrolled in any scholarly community) and further separated by the merit based scholarship they were awarded when they were admitted. This allowed for a more in depth analysis within the scholarly community. The analysis consisted of identifying the differences and predictability the number of Advanced Placement credits has between the first year and final GPA. Results of this study suggest that Advanced Placement college credits earned in high school are a better predictor of first year and final grade point average than the traditional standardized test score. The study aimed to contribute to the literature on Honors students and to be a guide for both academic and student affairs professionals on how the use of the standardized test is not the best predictor of student academic success. In addition, better understanding of this population of students will help to decrease attrition by identifying students that are more likely to maintain their good standing and graduate from within the Honors College.