International Journal of Social Policy & Education

ISSN 2689-4998 (print), 2689-5013 (online)

DOI: 10.61494/ijspe

Exploring Definitions of Success in College Students: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Carrie Steinman, PhD, LCSW & Thalia L. MacMillan, PhD, MSW, EMT


In the last few years, the number of nontraditional students in higher education has increased. This study explored the body of research on success in nontraditional college students. The results found that definitions of success ranged from positive, negative, and neutral. These definitions highlighted that the results may vary from intrinsic to extrinsic factors related to success. The size and constitution of nontraditional college student samples varied, as did the methodologies that were utilized. Implications for teaching, mentoring, and research are discussed.