What is the likelihood you will successfully complete graduate school?

Not Dan Janzen.

What are good predictors of success and how do we use them to reach our life goals? One of the best pieces of advice I have received for success in academia came from Ecologist Extraordinaire, Dan Janzen. “Always be finishing something”.

So here’s the deal. An elite prep school and a charter school in New York both confronted the same problem. Students with every economic advantage and/or that were intellectually gifted would be admitted to elite colleges upon graduation but quit before they completed their college degree.

In a fascinating article in the New York Times magazine, Paul Tough reviews how both schools are turning to the work of U. Penn psychologist Angela Duckworth.

People who accomplished great things, she noticed, often combined a passion for a single mission with an unswerving dedication to acheive that mission, whatever the obstacles and however long it might take. She decided she needed to name this aquality, and she chose the word “grit.

Duckworth’s simple 12 question “grit” score has exceeded other, more complex tests, in predicting success. For example, West Point, the U.S. Army’s elite office training school, pitted their test against the Grit Scale. The simple Grit Test was better at predicting who will finish the arduous “Beast Barracks” that begins a students time at West Point.

Grit, apparently, is it.

Dan Janzen has grit.

Importantly, these educators believe, grit can be taught. And they are adjusting their curriculum to highlight examples of grit in history, literature, and civics. Moreover, they are monitoring student progress with a “character report card” that assigns grades in personality traits like zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism and curiosity. You can imagine how many of those traits would be good ones to cultivate.

So take the Grit test. And for the more senior readers of this blog, post your score if you dare.

I scored a very respectable 4.1.  I suspect anybody scoring a perfect “5″ would be an absolute joy to share an office with.

Download the grit test here.

See also:

Will you earn your Ph. D.?

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5 Responses to What is the likelihood you will successfully complete graduate school?

  1. protoscholar says:

    I scored 4 even. Not surprising. I finished my PhD this past May, but frankly there are SO MANY THINGS I find interesting that I do sometimes find new ideas pulling me away from old.

  2. Morgan says:

    4.17 – I was penalized for my distractability issues…wait what was that shiny thing across the room? Gotta go!

  3. [...] whether someone has the stick-to-it-ive-ness to finish something great.  She calls it GRIT.  See Getting Things Done in Academia (newly reawoken) to understand a bit more and follow this link to the instrument itself.  I got a [...]

  4. [...] What is the likelihood you will successfully complete graduate school? « Getting Things Done in Aca…. Create a free edublog to get your own comment avatar (and more!) [...]

  5. macromite says:

    I only scored 3.67 on the 12 Grit, because I do get interested in new ideas, but don’t always follow them up and I don’t always work 60 h a week. But I have a PhD, 150 journal articles, and several books and cds published. If I’d been as monomaniacal as the test seems to want, then I bet I would have half as many pubs at best and have had a lot less fun.

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