Students’ Change in Self-Perception of College Readiness


Students in the SLAM Project reported a large shift in their self-perceptions of college readiness as a result of the program. At the onset of the program, 28% (N = 23) deemed themselves college ready. After completing MATH 109, 92% (N = 76) felt prepared for college.

What the Students Learned
  • “I learned not to procrastinate and to learn things at a faster pace.”
  • “I now know that there is a lot of studying to do and that I should keep asking questions instead of having doubts.”
  • “When it came to the exams, my study habits were not enough. I need to improve my study habits in order to be college-ready.”
  • “I know I have to focus way more than I’m used to.”
  • “College-level math goes by fast and you have to be able to keep up. Now I think I could do that a lot better – now that I’ve had this class.”
What We’re Learning
The statistics and graph above illustrate a 64% increase in the number of students who perceived themselves as college ready upon completion of the college course; however, this is a limited response to the research question. In all, 86% of students (N = 71) stated that their perception of themself as college ready changed upon completion of the course. The reason for this is that there were two types of perceptual changes: (1) those who thought they were ready but realized the class was more difficult than anticipated and, in hindsight, realized they were not ready prior to the class, and (2) those who changed from feeling not ready to feeling ready.

Misperceptions of College Readiness
All of the 28% of students who considered themselves college-ready prior to participating in the SLAM Project changed their perception after completing the course. The students in this group claimed that they had never previously felt challenged in math and assumed college-level math would be no different. For example, one SLAM student stated that prior to SLAM, “Yes, I did feel ready for college-level math
classwork” but after completing the program said her perception changed “because throughout this semester I struggled in understanding some stuff that seemed very easy for other classmates.” Another important note about this student is the fact that she did not pass MATH 109. Yet she was one of the students who felt college-ready prior to taking the class. She shared that before the SLAM Project, “I did feel ready for college-level math classwork due to the fact that I found my previous Algebra 2 class easy.” Despite failing the course, she claims that she feels more ready for college now after her experience in the class.

Changes from Not Ready to Ready
Conversely, more than two-thirds of students (67%, N = 56) who did not perceive themselves as college-ready at the onset came into the program feeling insecure and left feeling confident. One SLAM student shared, “I did not think I was ready. The main reason I was not confident was because I did not think I was smart enough in math.” Students with similar perceptions reported working hard and feeling proud of their success in the class. The student quoted above followed up by stating, “[my perception] has changed. I now feel like I could do well in college, especially in math.” This student earned the only A in year two of the program.

Participant Comments
  • I didn’t think I was going to apply to college before this class.–SLAM Student

  • I did feel ready for college-level math classwork due to the fact that I found my previous Algebra 2 class easy.–SLAM Student

  • I thought that I was ready but when I started this class I saw that the math was very different and I started to struggle in math for the first time.–SLAM Student

  • I started to work harder…I learned it’s easier when you work together with friends.–SLAM Student

  • I realized that it was up to me to look for help if I didn’t understand what was going on.–SLAM Student

  • I now feel like I could do well in college, especially in math.–SLAM Student