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Chapter 3

Transition to Higher Education

The transition from elementary/secondary school to higher education is an important step not only to the individuals making it, but also to a Nation committed to the well-being of its citizens. Information on persons making this transition also provides opportunities for the assessment of their progress through stages just completed and their readiness for future activities. In this report, the transition points mark an important opportunity for examining the status of underrepresented groups as they progress through the educational system. The last chapter examined precollege educational participation and achievement for all students. It noted that differences arise as early as elementary school between girls and boys and among the minorities who are ultimately underrepresented in science and engineering-blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians.
This chapter examines selected data from two organizations administering college entrance examinations-the Admissions Testing Program of the College Entrance Examination Board, which administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), and the American College Testing Program, which administers the American College Testing (ACT) Assessment. Results of these examinations are of substantial importance to college admissions decisions and hence to opportunities for college students. A close analysis also offers further insight into the precollege preparation of women and underrepresented minorities. The data show substantial differences in standardized test results among the various groups at the critical transition point from secondary school to higher education. This chapter also presents selected data on characteristics of American college first-year students from an ongoing annual survey [1] and data from surveys of first-year students with disabilities.
Each student completing the SAT or ACT examination is asked to fill out a descriptive questionnaire that requests such information as the sex and racial/ethnic background of the student as well as courses taken and high school grades. This information is used as the basis for comparing characteristics of student groups.

Persons With Disabilities
Sidebar: Course-taking and Test Performance
Sidebar: The Right Track
1. The American Freshman: National Norms (Cooperative Institutional Research Program 1966-1992) was established in 1966 at the American Council on Education. This survey is conducted by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, administered by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, under the continuing sponsorship of the American Council on Education. Up arrow
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