Academic success factors: study shows that importance of high school language courses is underestimated

Posted on Saturday, April 20, 2013

OTTAWA, August 20, 2013 — Students’ transition from high school to first year university can be hard, but the University of Ottawa is trying to ease the integration process through a program giving new students access to mentors from their home regions. As well, the University is analyzing factors contributing to academic success, to help school boards better support students as they prepare to make this transition. In fact, a study entitled Linguistic Heterogeneity and Non‐Traditional Pathways to Postsecondary Education in Ontariopublished by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, shows that success in high school language courses accounted for 25% of the academic performance variability of first year university students who took English courses, and 32% for first year university students who took French courses.

This study is based on research carried out by Sylvie Lamoureux, an assistant professor in the University’s Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute, as well as by University administrators. The study examines two questions: how important mentoring programs are for student success and how success in high school language courses can contribute to overall success in first year university studies.

“We decided to start a study on determinants of academic success and high school language course grades, after interviewing students who were going through the transition from high school to university and were taking part in our regional mentoring program — which has been an incredible success with first year university students and their parents, I might add,” explains Lamoureux. “Through the study, we discovered that not only do good grades in high school contribute to success at university, but that good grades in high school language courses account for about a third of the variability in success at university.”

Albert Brunet, a student and regional mentor, feels that his success in university studies is based on specific factors. “My high school courses were the best tool to prepare me for university. Furthermore, my course grades mirror my first year average at the University of Ottawa,” he says. “As well, when I took part in the regional mentoring program, I was lucky enough to be matched with someone from my high school, who had had the same experience as me. My mentor had visited our high school to talk about his languages challenges and his transition to the University of Ottawa. My positive experience has encouraged me to become a mentor for future students from my region.”


Kina Leclair
Media Relations Officer
Office: 613-562-5800 (2529)
Cell: 613-762-2908

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