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Ability to Pay Attention May Predict College Success, Study Says

Could learning how to pay attention be more important to success in school than academic performance?

That seems to be the conclusion of a new study from researchers at Oregon State University which suggests that kids who pay attention and persist with a task have a 50 percent better chance of completing college.

The study, published online yesterday in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, asked the parents of 430 preschoolers to rate their kids' abilities to pay attention, follow directions and complete tasks. The kids were then assessed at age 7 on their reading and math abilities, and again at age 21.

The researchers discovered that "children who were rated higher by their parents on attention span and persistence at age 4 had nearly 50 percent greater odds of getting a bachelor's degree by age 25," a university news release said.

"Our study shows that the biggest predictor of college completion wasn't math or reading skills, but whether or not" kids were "able to pay attention and finish tasks at age 4," early child development researcher and lead study author Megan McClelland said in the release.

The researchers stress that the good news is that these behavioral skills can be taught, so parents have another way to help their kids be successful in school.

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