Grit Predicts Success

‘Grit’ as Important as Talent, High School Achievement in Black Men’s College Success

Beyond good test scores and high school grades, a new study finds one key factor that helps predict if a young black man will succeed at a predominantly white university.

The factor is “grit” – a dedication to pursuing and achieving a goal, whatever the obstacles and failures along the way.

Grit is so important that it was found to affect college grades for black men almost as much as high school GPA and ACT scores, said Terrell Strayhorn, author of the study and associate professor of educational studies in the College of Education and Human Ecology. “For many black men, talent and high school success are not the only things they need to succeed when they attend a predominantly white university,” he said. “Despite where they begin in terms of college readiness, black males who show more grit than their peers earn better grades in college.”

These findings are important, Strayhorn said, because they identify a way that educators and parents can make a real difference in improving college graduation rates for black men-especially since graduation from college depends, in part, on earning high enough grades to meet university academic standards.

The study appears online the Journal of African American Studies.