The Underprepared College Student: How Non-Cognitive Factors Influence Academic Preparedness

Marni Finkelstein, D. Moire Thom


The purpose of this exploratory phenomenological study was to explore the influence of non-cognitive factors on academic preparedness. Interviews were conducted with a sample of underprepared college students concerning several areas of non-cognitive factors: early educational factors; personal factors; affective factors; and, non-cognitive skill factors. The students' attitudes and experiences revealed several themes concerning the influence of non-cognitive factors and academic preparedness. Findings related to textual categories indicated personal factors such as the students' experiences of coming from a broken home and family strife, or personal issues such as alcohol abuse and bad decision-making skills were possible reasons for their negative educational experiences. Additionally, their narratives about their youth suggested a lack of parental involvement in their early educational experiences. Structural theme findings suggested the malleability of non-cognitive skill factors such as their creative and practical skills, as well as affective factors, were a positive influence on the students’ motivation to continue their degree aspirations. Key findings included a creative synthesis using cognitive/non-cognitive distinctions that emerged from a deeper understanding discovered within textual categories and structural themes. This study has several implications, as well as recommendations for improving the academic preparedness of academically underprepared college students. 

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Journal of Studies in Education ISSN 2162-6952


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