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Rationale for Using the CSFI 2.0

In use by colleges and universities for over twenty years, the College Success Factors Index (CSFI) is an instrument containing 100 self-scoring statements designed to determine the readiness of college students to successfully complete their early years in higher education. The CSFI is a useful tool for counselors, advisors, and instructors that looks at the very fundamentals that are behind success in higher education.

Many factors indicate potential academic success in universities and colleges throughout the country. Most notably, grade point average in high school and aptitude scores, such as SAT or ACT scores, are used to predict success in college. However, additional factors which are often unmeasured have a very important place in the retention of students and their continuing success in higher education. For example, how a student uses his or her time or approaches the tasks assigned may be more critical to success than aptitude and previous academic records.

Take the example of a first year student taking mathematics and English as part of their college experience. It is expected that previous high school GPA in mathematics and English, along with verbal and quantitative test scores, would adequately predict success. But typically, affective factors are also operating. Mathematics assignments are usually turned in every week or every other day, which demand a precise organization of time and task. Failing to turn in assignments on time, the student is graded down, indicating a lack of knowledge of the subject. Yet, it may not be math ability but an inability to deal with time and task that actually lowered the grade. A student could conceivably fail mathematics while understanding the content if he or she is unable to deal with factors like precision and task planning.

Moreover, factors such as involvement in activities at the college and family interest may in fact be greater success indices than previously known. The former allows the student involvement with college activities, interaction with faculty and the development of peer relationships. The latter relates to a family that encourages success in college by providing encouragement, flexibility in the family calendar and the sharing of family resources.

With this in mind, the College Success Factors Index has been developed to help measure many of the undiscovered fundamentals and factors that are critical to academic success. The index is designed to show not only overall scores, but it also designed to demonstrate a breakdown of the ten important criteria designated as important for one to maximize their potential for college success.

The CSFI is intended to have practical predictive value for anyone working with college bound and first-year students. As a diagnostic instrument, the College Success Factors Index allows us to look at scores in reference to a criterion success line, which is called the watchline. For example, during the first year in college, low scores may be examined and students given learning opportunities and interventions to improve their score through a first-year seminar or through a one-on-one advising session.

The CSFI is coupled with Early Alert functionality. Early Alert allows students and professional staff to identify areas that need improvement the first day of school, thereby increasing the possibility for retention. Through Early Alert, staff may offer interventions that keep students in college. For example a student with an overall CSFI score high enough for university work may find that his or her time management score falls below the watchline. Customized time management interventions may be employed during the first year of college so that this student is able to better persist as he or she progresses with other courses in college.