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What are the most common effects on academic success at Dordt College, and how can
students overcome these effects? This question is important because the limiting factor of the
effects on a students future. If they do not achieve academic success, pursuit of their field of
study will be difficult. If students are aware of some causes of academic failure, they are easier to
be recognized as a cause of academic failure. If students are aware of their effects, and how to
overcome them, academic success can be obtained.
This research report will attempt to determine effects on academic success as well the
opinions of faculty on how students succeed here at Dordt College. This report will observe the
responses of Pam DeJong, Bill Elgersma, and various documentation found on the Dordt

Literature Review
Factors that affect students academic success include learning disabilities,
communication apprehension, pre-college experiences, and students own reflections of
themselves. Learning disabilities are out of students control on the effect it has on academic
success. Communication apprehension is a fear derived from the anticipation of social
interaction but is under students control. Pre-college experiences are partially in students

control but a large portion can be out of control. The final factor that will be examined in this
study is the students own opinion which is completely in the students own control.
A study done at a Midwestern college examined the effects that learning disabilities had
on success rates. The study was designed with guidelines requiring participants to be receiving
aid from the college and have a complete file on record.
Communication apprehension was studied at the State University of New York, and
showed that students who had higher scores of communication apprehension had a higher rate of
drop out, while students whose scores were lower had lower dropout rates. The study showed
that students with communication apprehension tried to avoid social interaction that creates
Pre-college experiences that have an effect on academic success are; being raised in a
religiously affiliated home, violent schools, and a parents academic success. Students who
attended violent schools or parents with low academic success were more likely to have lower
chances of academic success, while students who grew up in religiously affiliated homes or
parents had higher academic success were likely to as well have higher academic success.
The students opinion is derived from student optimism and self-efficacy. Students
optimism is the students own opinion of their ability to succeed in academic settings, while selfefficacy is the ability of a student to handle situations, while stress is the students perceived
understanding to handle an exterior situation.


How I plan to analyze the data I gather is by looking at common understandings of

academic success and how students have obtained these understandings in the past. I also plan to
analyze my data by looking at the past struggles students have overcome when trying to achieve
academic success and anything that might have assisted students in overcoming those struggles. I
will then attempt to research these specific factors and come up with methods of overcoming
obstacles for academic success in a step by step process.

During my first contact with Pam DeJong I was provided with links to the Dordt College
Academic Skills Center. These links provided detailed information on the process by which
someone with learning disabilities could apply for assistance. Dordt College also provides a
number of services to students with learning disabilities.
These services include; course support in note taking, tutoring, class advising, screening
and referral for diagnostic testing, faculty advocacy, pre-registration, campus accessibility,
housing arrangements, and vocational rehabilitation. On top of the services provided through
Dordt College, the ASK Center has the following assistive technologies available; recorded
books, Kurzweil text-to-voice software, and Dragon Naturally Speaking voice-to-text software.
Students who wish to make use of Dordt Colleges ASK Centers disabilities services are
required to provide complete documentation at least 6 months in advance to ensure their special
needs can be met. The needs of each student is determined on a case to case basis. Dordt College
encourages students with learning disabilities to disclose the information on their learning

disabilities to the school, so that each student is able to achieve higher academic success. Also so
that students who do not meet the specific requirements of acceptance may receive special
consideration in light of their disability.
DeJongs responses to questions of How do pre-college experiences affect academic
success at Dordt College? What in your personal opinion is most detrimental to students
academic success? and In regards to your opinion, how do you see students at Dordt College
succeed in response to this? DeJongs responses were very detailed and direct. DeJong has
worked as the director of the ASK Center for nearly twenty six years and has seen a close
relation between students pre-college experience and their academic success. She stated that
students who did well in pre-college with lack of studying, or motivation failed to meet the
standards of college academics. That their habits that carried on from their pre-college years
were not going to cut it once they reached college. She also said that these students who were
able to just float on by in high school needed to adjust their practices here at college to maintain
their good grades.
On the contrary DeJong said that students who had not just floated on by in pre-college
and were forced to work hard for their grade took a greater pride in their college experiences.
They were aware of the work that was required for their good grades and had the motivation to
achieve it. DeJong went on to say that a can-do attitude, or self-efficacy and positive opinions
of themselves, was possessed by successful students.
In response to the final question of how she saw students achieve academic success,
DeJong, responded by saying that it was students who were organized and with good time
management skills that were most likely to succeed. These students were not willing to settle for
anything less than giving their college education their all.

Bill Elgersmas response on communication apprehension and learning disabilities was

insightful in that he stated communication apprehension is not significantly detrimental. He
provided a presentation on communication apprehension that showed that with proper planning
and a positive outlook on the experience students can overcome communication apprehension. In
regards to learning disabilities, he agreed that they can be difficult for college students to
overcome. Thus he went so far as to say that some with learning disabilities should not pursue
college. For some with learning disabilities, academic success requires both a lot of work from
the individual and the administrative. As Elgersma pointed out, not going to college goes against
cultural and worldviews that say the majority of high school students should go to college. So
this idea of students with learning disabilities should consider the amount of work required to
In response to the same three questions asked of DeJong, Elgersma had a very close
response to academic success in regards to pre-college experience, his opinion of the detriments
to academic success, and how to overcome them. He said students who do not prepare
themselves for the rigors of college will find it more difficult to succeed, if they do only the
minimalist work required. He believes it is persistence and motivation that drives a student on to
academic success, and things like procrastination and other distractions destroy a students
chance at academic success.

The Dordt College webpage offered information and records regarding Dordt College
Students retention rates of their GPAs. Secondary sources I examined had information on factors

of Academic Success and how it was detrimental to students. It showed pre-college experiences,
learning disabilities, communication apprehension, and personal opinion of the students.
The question and answer done with DeJong and Elgersma revealed different responses in
regards to communication apprehension and learning disabilities. DeJong suggested I contact the
student health services about the effects of communication apprehension, which when contacted
provided no answers to that topic. From the findings in Elgersmas response it is easy to assume
that communication apprehension can be effectively dealt with in proper planning and
preparation. In regards to the learning disabilities, DeJong provided website content that showed
the various ways in which Dordt College attempts to assist students with them, while Elgersma
said that it was more in the students own hands to determine academic success from learning
In regards to pre-college experience and their own opinions the two of them closely
agreed. Both DeJong and Elgersma said that students who were prepared for college because of
pre-college experiences that was encountered. If a student takes their pre-college years seriously,
then students are more prepared for college academic success. As well students who were
motivated and had positive opinions of their abilities were more likely to succeed in their college

In conclusion the study showed that in regards to Dordt College facultys opinions and
previous encounters, that the greatest factors on a students academic success were pre-college

experiences and students motivation, persistence, personal opinion, and time management.
Faculty feel that if a student is unwilling to take their college academic success seriously they
will not achieve what they want. Instead they will suffer from their lack of commitment.