Issues with High School Preparation and Transition to College

  • Heather ThiryEmail author


This chapter explores the relationship among students’ preparation for college-level STEM coursework, their transition into undergraduate studies, and attrition from STEM majors. Nearly one-third of students were underprepared for advanced STEM coursework and this directly contributed to switching decisions for about half of these students. Students of color were more likely to feel that they were poorly prepared in math. Women of color, in particular, were most likely to attribute their decision to switch to a lack of STEM preparation. Many underprepared students had experienced poor teaching in high school or a rote curriculum that did not emphasize abstract or conceptual learning. Some students were also unprepared for the workload, organization, and time management required in undergraduate STEM courses. Lack of preparation and a difficult transition to college often coupled with other factors that ultimately contributed to students’ decision to leave STEM.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ethnography and Evaluation Research (E&ER)University of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA

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