Guiding Students’ Transition to University: Which Student Factors to Include?

Erna Nauwelaerts, Sarah Doumen, Guido Verhaert


In Belgium, pupils in their final years of high school follow an orientation trajectory towards higher education, including self-exploration tests and participation in initiatives of higher education institutions, under the supervision of their teachers. At the end of this trajectory, the teacher board advises pupils regarding their intended study choices. Belgian higher education has an open-admission system, although there exist non-binding positioning tests for some of the Bachelor degree programmes, developed at the request of the Flemish government. The aim of this study is to develop a new orientation tool to support teachers and the teacher board in their guiding role for high-school students transitioning to higher education. In cooperation with 43 high schools, important factors to be included in the instrument were investigated. Student factors rated by the teacher board such as test taking and preparation strategies, persistence and effort and factors regarding prior education were examined as predictors of students’ academic performance at two higher education institutions (n = 2852). Based on this research, a prototype of a new orientation instrument is presented that takes into account high school GPA and the match between students’ field of study in secondary school and their intended/chosen Bachelor programme in higher education. These factors have a high multiple correlation of approximately nearly 0.70 with academic performance at university. The other student factors considered are substantially related to study success in higher education, but appear largely incorporated into student’s high school GPA.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Erna Nauwelaerts, Sarah Doumen, Guido Verhaert

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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