Emotional Intelligence As a Non-Traditional Predictor of College Student Retention and Graduation
Universities are looking for new predictors of student retention and graduation. Based on the findings of this study, emotional intelligence is a predictor of student retention and performance over time. A survey of 783 traditional college students was conducted using the Bar-On EQ-i: 125 prior to initial enrollment for the fall semester 2002 at a particular university in the southeastern United States. At the conclusion of spring semester 2007, data were collected which included enrollment status, graduation status, and cumulative college grade point average. Relationships between the 15 subscales of emotional intelligence as defined by the Bar-On EQ-i: 125 (self-regard, emotional self-awareness, assertiveness, independence, self-actualization, empathy, social responsibility, interpersonal relationship, reality testing, flexibility, problem solving, stress tolerance, impulse control, optimism, and happiness) and enrollment status, graduation status, and cumulative grade point average were examined. Emotional intelligence scores were compared to national norms. Additionally, this study analyzed the relationship of traditional predictors of student retention and graduation from college such as gender, ethnicity, marital status, first generation college student status, on- or off-campus housing, high school grade point average, and ACT score, with enrollment status, graduation status, and cumulative college grade point average. This research suggests that there is a statistically significant relationship predominately between Empathy, Social Responsibility, Flexibility, and Impulse Control, and enrollment status and graduation status. Social Responsibility was found to be the strongest positive predictor of graduation, followed by Impulse Control and Empathy. Flexibility proved to be a negative predictor of both enrollment and graduation. The emotional intelligence subscales that positively predicted the cumulative college grade point averages of students were Self-Actualization, Social Responsibility, and Happiness. Independence and Interpersonal Relationship were negatively related to cumulative college grade point average. Additionally, high school grade point average positively predicted enrollment, graduation, and cumulative college grade point average while ACT significantly predicted graduation and cumulative college grade point average. The findings of the study also suggest that the demographic most likely to graduate are White females, not dating, who live in on-campus housing their first semester, with one or both parents having a 4-year degree.