With the vast proliferation of open-admissions colleges, it’s not really difficult for high school students to get accepted to college. The trouble is that a lot of them can’t really succeed there and end up dropping out after a semester or two.

According to an article by Catherine Gewertz in Education Week, however, the secret to college success has a lot to do with preparation for college; the courses students take in high school. As Gewertz puts it:

A …study by ACT, draws on the Iowa City, Iowa-based testmaker’s earlier research showing that taking a strong core curriculum in high school and meeting benchmark scores in all four subjects of the ACT college-entrance exam enhance students’ chances of enrolling in college, persisting there for a second year, earning good grades, and obtaining a two- or four-year degree.

This conclusion isn’t really all that shocking—surprise, people who earn a high score on an exam that measures preparation for college end up doing well in college—but it’s interesting to consider the implications of the high school courses part of this study.

How important were the rigorous high school courses in helping low-achieving high students become successful college graduates? Did that happen?

Read the ACT study here.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer