Factors and Motivations of the College Decision: a Study of What Influences Students in Their Choice of College
Hardy, Cole C.
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Institutions could more efficiently and effectively target prospective students if certain characteristics of the students' college decision process were better understood. This is important in light of recent research that points to the critical challenges small, independent colleges must face as they strive to survive, much less to thrive in this increasingly competitive marketplace. With the enrollment of liberal arts colleges decreasing over the past 40 years, to understand why students have chosen universities would be a valuable tool that liberal arts colleges could use to reverse the trend. This study, using an original data set, investigates the various influences and/or factors that may affect a student's decision on a particular college. The background for this study focused on (1) the history of liberal arts enrollment from the 1940s to present day and (2) other studies that have been conducted that focus on influences in teenager lives that can be applied to the college decision process. The data for this research were collected during May, 2005, with roughly 600 high school students in Michigan and surrounding states being surveyed to gain knowledge of their decision process. The data revealed several interesting features of how teenagers view Kalamazoo College. First, a student's decision about college is based largely on the educational attainment of his or her parents. Second, distance affects the knowledge students have of a small, private school more drastically than a large university. Third, academic quality, tuition, financial aid and career success for graduates are among the most influential characteristics of a school when students consider a college. This information should be considered carefully for future college planning.
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