IIndividuals entering college from disadvantaged economic backgrounds often face multiple obstacles to successful academic performance. Nonetheless, many such students are successful. In this study, we explore the personal characteristics of students from poverty who do well academically in comparison to their economic peers who were less successful academically. Pre-admission, written applications were analyzed using the computerized linguistic analysis tool, LIWC, to predict first semester GPA in a group of 48 students, all of whom came from economic backgrounds that were 150% or more below Federal guidelines. Significant poverty level and sex differences were found. Men’s GPA was highly correlated with Total Word Count, while women’s GPA was significantly correlated with Reward and Tentativeness. Most striking was the strong positive correlation between GPA and Positive Affect among women from the lowest economic group. The findings suggest further research to clarify and confirm the role of cognitive styles and affect in academic performance as moderated by both sex and degree of poverty, even among those traditionally viewed as belonging to a homogenous economic group.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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