Featured Jul 10, 2018

Higher Education Research Digest

Articles in the 2018 Higher Education Research Digest provide relevant, timely, and practical research insights to help higher-education professionals:

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Higher Education Research Digest

An Annual Research Report from ACT

The inaugural Higher Education Research Digest from ACT was released last year and many readers found it “relevant, timely, and practical” and called it “high-impact higher education research.”

Articles in the 2018 Higher Education Research Digest will provide research insights to help higher-education professionals:

  • Build a diverse and college-ready class
  • Understand a new index for high school academic rigor, and use it to predict students’ college success
  • Tell whether a student will declare the major in which they indicated interest
  • Determine how much academic preparation a student needs before entering the workplace
  • Predict whether your incoming first-generation students will drop out or transfer
  • Forecast which high school students are likely to enroll and graduate from college

A guide to the 2018 ACT/SAT Concordance also is included in the Digest.


This year’s edition of the Digest presents three new publicly-available ACT databases: the Enrollment Management Database (updated with the 2017 ACT-Tested Graduating Cohort); the Ten-Year Trends Database; and the College Completion Database.

What are enrollment leaders saying about the 2018 Higher Education Research Digest?

“It is first rate – nicely done.”

Don Hossler, PhD
Senior Scholar
Center for Enrollment Research Policy and Practice
USC Rossier School of Education

Articles from the 2018 Higher Education Research Digest

Building a Diverse and College-Ready Class 

The Power of Social and Emotional Learning Skills

Findings from over a decade of ACT research on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) offer new insights on ways to increase diversity without sacrificing readiness.

New Understanding of High School Rigor and College Success Predictions

An Empirically Derived Index of High School Academic Rigor

ACT researchers developed and tested a new index of high school academic rigor. Findings from this research reveal that prediction of first-year college grade point average can be improved when the rigor of high school coursework is considered alongside ACT test scores.

Sticking to the Plan

Who Is Likely to Declare a Major That Is Consistent with Their Intentions?

Only 55% of ACT-tested students declare a major in college that is consistent with the intended major area that they indicated at the time of ACT registration. This study examines factors related to a student following through on their choice of intended major area.

College and Career Ready

How Much Academic Preparation is Needed for Middle-Skills Jobs?

It's common for states to set education policies that define college and career readiness as a unified construct. This research considers whether that decision is prudent in light of possible differences in rigor between traditional bachelor’s degree programs and middle-skills job training programs.

They May Be First, But Will They Last?

Retention and Transfer Behavior of First-Generation Students

First-generation (FG) students are at greater risk of dropping out of college at year two even after controlling for a variety of academic and non-academic factors. The findings support the need for institutional programs designed to help FG students succeed and persist in college.

Academic Readiness and Discipline

Two Factors Related to Degree Completion

In alignment with the ACT Holistic Framework, the findings from this study highlight the importance of both academic preparation and social and emotional learning skills on college success, namely degree completion.

Fair to Compare

A Guide to the 2018 ACT/SAT Concordance

With the redesign of the SAT in 2016, researchers from ACT and the College Board, in collaboration with the NCAA Technical Advisory Board, have developed updated, technically-sound concordance tables to serve the needs of students and institutions.

More Resources


Reduce barriers to readiness, retention, and completion with ACT® CollegeReady™.


Build your pool of qualified students with high-quality leads from ACT Enroll and the ACT Educational Opportunity Service (EOS).

Reporting and Research

Tap into rich data and free research services to inform your enrollment management strategy and planning.


Identify at-risk students and improve first-year student retention rates with ACT® Engage® College.

Related Research

2017 Higher Education Research Digest

In the first release of this report, ACT research shed light on the following topics:

  • The practice of super-scoring
  • STEM major choice
  • Factors impacting retention and transfer
  • Test optional admission policy
  • Benefits for students who opt in to the ACT Educational Opportunity Service (EOS)