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Can a high school profile predict success for women returning to education?

Sandra Jean Price, University of Massachusetts Amherst


By examining background material on older women admitted in the mid-'80s to a highly selective college for women, this study attempts to sort out and explore answers to three questions: (1) Could one have predicted from the high school profiles that these women could and would become such high achievers? (2) What are the psychosocial factors that interfere with a woman's epistemological (cognitive) development and prevent her from achieving in high school when she is capable of doing so? (3) What factors contribute to a women's resilience and motivation to change her life and return to education? The study reviews research about women's: education, motivation for returning to college, development, transitions, resilience, and non-traditional admission criteria. The study investigates both quantitative and qualitative aspects of an Ada Comstock Scholars cohort at Smith College. The quantitative analysis compares the Ada cohort with a sample of traditional students who were graduating at the same time and documents the excellent success rate of the non-traditional cohort. The qualitative section identifies common themes among applicants' autobiographies, such as writing skills, ability for self-reflection, academic support, motivation, non-academic achievement, self-esteem, and evidence of a turning point (epiphany) in their lives. This set of findings leads to discoveries about the weakness of relying on traditional criteria and stresses the importance of developing non-traditional measures that are valid predictors of success for women returning to education.

Subject Area

Adult education|Continuing education|Womens studies|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Price, Sandra Jean, "Can a high school profile predict success for women returning to education?" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9721486.