Background: The purpose of this study was to determine if there are other factors that could predict academic success. Specifically, is there an association between Grit and Academic Resiliency prior to the start of a semester and academic success (defined by GPAs) in college freshmen. This study also explored students’ experiences of high school, effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, perception about their journey through the beginning of their College freshmen year, and perception about success.

Methods: A mixed methods design was used. A quantitative survey was emailed to all incoming UT Tyler Freshmen students prior to the Fall 2020 semester, collecting basic demographic information and Grit and Academic Resiliency scores. The qualitative component consisted of a randomized subgroup that participated in 1-2 interviews through Zoom meetings.

Results: For the Quantitative results, Grit scores had a significant association based on student’s major, and the best predictor in determining a student’s level of Grit and Academic Resiliency was their career path/major choice. Whereas the best predictor for academic success, defined as having a GPA of at least a 3.00, was the number of credit hours a student took. Students who took at least 13 or more credit hours during the Fall 2020 semester were 2.6 times more likely to have a higher GPA (at least a 3.00 or higher). The qualitative results determined that the detailed interviews provided insight to how Grit and Academic Resiliency can be applied based on participants encounters and perceptions of challenges during life, and how this could be applied towards future success. The current COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted current students. Even though students knew higher education would not occur in the traditional manner, students still decided to push through and take on the challenges that were associated with the challenges of the pandemic. Despite knowing higher education would not be or look the same, they still persisted toward their goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a learning experience for students, that is, even though there were changes and challenges, students still continued on in the hopes of both continuing their education needs and reaching their future goals.

Conclusion: Participants of this study have encountered a traumatic event this year (COVID-19 Pandemic), suggesting there is a higher prevalence of mental health issues among college students than average. While Grit and Academic Resiliency were not significant predictors for academic success, they can still be useful skills for current and future students to navigate challenges faced in their academics. Future research can include developing Grit and Academic Resiliency education modules in K-12 education and evaluating them.

Date of publication

Spring 4-27-2021

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

William Sorensen, Cheryl Cooper, Sarah Sass, Jimi Francis


Masters in Health Sciences