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Lynch School of Education

Karen D. Arnold

associate professor
educational leadership and higher education department




Curriculum Vitae

Campion Hall
Room 225


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Living & learning: Better grades mean bigger paychecks. Miami Herald, August 3, 2014.
Why smart kids lied about college. Washington Post, July 28, 2014.
Should schools have valedictorians?  Some schools have abolished this traditional honor for the top senior. New York Times UpFront, May 12, 2014.
We are creating Walmarts of higher education. The Atlantic, December 26, 2013.
Parents get competitive on college. Boston Globe, April 12, 2013.


Karen Arnold interview on her 2012 book: The Ecology of College Readiness
Karen Arnold 2013 interview on College Launch with Mary Roberts


Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.A., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
B.A., Oberlin College
B.Mus., Oberlin Conservatory of Music


college student development and adult psychology; college access; international student affairs; talent development; longitudinal research

I study the connections between education and adult life.  My research follows “best case” groups of students across the transitions from high school to college to career: high school valedictorians, Rhodes Scholars, and low income students of color from innovative high schools.  The work centers on the ways in which individual, organizational, and social factors come together to perpetuate inequality in individuals’ educational opportunities, higher education experiences, and subsequent life chances.  I also study educational conditions and interventions designed to advance human development and social equality. This practice-oriented work takes place in community-based college access organizations in the U.S. and at universities in China and elsewhere around the world. 

My graduate student teaching draws from my professional experience as a dean of students and my scholarly expertise in developmental theory and adult learning.  At the Ph.D. level, this means courses in which doctoral students discover and follow their own interests, connect to their peers, and develop the tools to become creators of knowledge.  For Master’s students, courses connect theory, professional applications, and personal experience to form them as reflective practitioners of higher education.


Professional Work Experience

Associate Professor of Higher Education, Boston College. September 1996 to present.  Interim Department Chair, 2011; Coordinator, Higher Education Program, 1994 to 2005.

Research Director, Big Picture Longitudinal Study.  2006-present

Assistant Professor, September 1990 to August 1995.

Visiting Scholar, Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Oxford, January 2005 to August 2005. 

Visiting Scholar, Henry A. Murray Research Center for the Study of Lives, Radcliffe College.  January 1994 to June 1995.

Acting Vice-President and Dean of Student Services, Reed College, Portland, Oregon.  November 1989 to July 1990.

Selected Books

Arnold, K.D., Chin, E., & Armstrong, K. (2012).  The ecology of college readiness.  ASHE Higher Education Report. 38(5).  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Arnold, K.D., and King, I. (1997)  College student development and academic life: Psychological, intellectual, social, and moral issues.  In series: Contemporary Higher Education. International Issues of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Garland. 

Arnold, K.D., Noble, K.S., & Subotnik, R.F. (Eds.).  (1996).  Remarkable women: Perspectives on female talent development.  Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Arnold, K.D. (1995).  Lives of promise: What becomes of high school valedictorians.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Subotnik, R.F., & Arnold, K.D. (Eds.). (1994).  Beyond Terman: Contemporary longitudinal studies of giftedness and talent.  Norwood, NJ: Ablex. 

Selected Articles in Refereed Journals

Castleman, B., Arnold, K.D., & Wartman, K.L.  (2012).  Stemming the tide of summer melt: An experimental study of the effects of post-high school summer intervention on low-income students’ college enrollment.  Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 5(1), 1-17.

Zhu, H., Arnold, K.D., & Li, C.Y. (2012).  Foundations, assurance, and the function of the system: Comparative studies of how Chinese and American university student internships inform employment.  Peking University Education Review, 10(1), 107-123.

Arnold, K.D., & Zhu, Hong (2011).  Student affairs in China.  International Higher Education, 61. Boston, MA: Center for International Higher Education.

Arnold, K.D., (2010).  College student development and the hook up culture.  Journal of College and Character, 11(4).

Arnold, K.D., Fleming, S., DeAnda, M., Castleman, B., & Wartman, K.L. (2009, Fall). The summer flood: The invisible gap among low-income students.  Thought & Action, 25, 23-34.

Arnold, K.D. (2009, August 27).  College access: The missing link. Huffington Post.

Washor, E., Arnold, K.D. , & Mojkowski, C.  (2008).  Taking the long view of success: Big Picture schools track graduates’ successes—and struggles—in life beyond high school.  Educational Leadership, 66(4), 60-64.

Book Chapters

Arnold, K.D., Subotnik, R.F., & Ross, M. (2011).  Longitudinal studies of creativity.  In M.A. Runco and S.R. Pritzer (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Creativity (2nd Ed.), (pp. 62-67). Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

Arnold, K.D. (2009).  Valedictorians.  In B. Kerr (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent.  Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE .

Youn, T.I.K., & Arnold, K.D.  (2004). Pathways to prominence: Explaining contours of career hierarchy of American Rhodes Scholars.  In W. Ilchman, A. Ilchman, and M. Tolar (Eds.).  The lucky few and the worthy many: Scholarship competitions and the world’s future leaders. (pp. 127-148). Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press.

Subotnik, R.F., Olszewski-Kubilius, P., & Arnold, K.D. (2003).  Beyond Bloom:  Revisiting environmental factors that enhance or impede talent development.  In J. H. Borland (Ed.), Rethinking gifted education.  (pp. 227-238). New York: Teachers College Press.

Arnold, K.D. (2002).  Developmental issues.  In A. Aleman & K. A. Renn (Eds.), Women in Higher Education.  (pp. 297-302). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio Publishers.

Arnold, K.D. (2002).  Student success.  In J.F. Forest and K. Kinser (Eds.), Higher Education in the United States: An Encyclopedia. (pp. 631-636).  Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio Publishers.

Subotnik, R.S., & Arnold, K.D. (2000).  Longitudinal research: Applying predictive validity to conceptions of giftedness.  In K. Heller, F. Monks, R. Sternberg, & R. Subotnik (Eds.).  International Handbook of Research and Development of Giftedness and Talent (Second Edition).  NY: Elsevier.

Monographs, Technical Reports, Proceedings

Arnold, K.D., & Youn, T.I.K.  (2006).  Generating leaders in an age of diversity: Fifty years of American Rhodes Scholars. Final report to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Youn, T.I.K., & Arnold, K.D.  (2006).  Final report to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (Grant #2001-6554).

Arnold, K.D., & Youn, T.I.K.  (2003). Final report to the Spencer Foundation. (Grant #200100034).

Selected Presentations and Invited Addresses

Arnold, K.D., Lu, E., & Armstrong, K. (2012, November.)  The developmental nature of college readiness: Reframing college readiness from an ecological systems perspective.  Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.  Las Vegas, NV.

Arnold, K.D., Wartman, K.L., Brown, P.G., Gismondi, A., Pesce, J.R., & Stanfield, D.  (2012, November).  Capturing the elusive: Accounting for study Attrition and complex trajectories in longitudinal study of low-income high school graduates. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.  Las Vegas, NV.

Youn, T.I.K., Arnold, K.D., & Shang, Y. (2012, November).  Of unequal advantages in the American meritocracy: Higher education and leadership attainment among the best and the brightest. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.  Las Vegas, NV

Arnold, K.D. (2012, August 8).  Lessons from the Big Picture Longitudinal Study.  Invited paper presented at the Big Picture Learning Big Bang conference.  Providence, RI. 

Arnold, K.D. (2012, July 18-21).  Panelist and roundtable presentations: Learning objectives, student development and measuring outcomes; Using qualitative assessment for continuous program and faculty improvement;  Teaching adaptive skills for lifelong learning and professional versatility. Zeferino Vaz School for Higher Education.  Center for Advanced Studies, University of Campinas and Sao Paulo Research Foundation.  Sao Paulo, Brazil.  

Arnold, K.D., & Castleman, B.L.  (2012, April).  The forgotten summer:  Does the offer of college counseling in the summer after high school graduation mitigate attrition among college-intending students?  Workshop presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Partnership for Education Access.  Chicago, IL. 

Zhu, Hong, & Arnold, K.D.  (2010, November).  Understanding and promoting student engagement and academic achievement in Asian universities: A study of Beijing college students. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.  Indianapolis, IN.

Arnold, K.D. & Strange, C. (2010, April). Teaching from the Art.  Paper presented at the American College Personnel Association. Boston.

Arnold, K.D., Brown, S., Cronin, K., Knuth-Bouracee, M. & Theroux, R.D. (2010, April).  Hooking up: The campus conversations project. Paper presented at the American College Personnel Association. Boston.

Castleman, B.L , Arnold, K.D., Wartman, K.L., Fleming, S. , Perez, C., & Fraser, D., Jr.  (2009, November).  Stemming the Summer Flood: An experimental study of college counselor intervention the summer after high school graduation on low income students’ college enrollment. . Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.  Vancouver, BC.

Arnold, K.D., Wartman, K.L., Castleman, B.L. , Napier, P. Fleming, S. & Deanda, M.A. (2008, November).  The real story: Validity in longitudinal studies of college access. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.  Jacksonville, FL.

Arnold, K.D., Fleming, S., Castleman, B.L. , & Deanda, M.A., Wartman, K.L., & Price, P.  (2008, March).  The summer flood: The gap between college admission and matriculation among low income students. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association.  New York, NY.

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