Academic journal article College and University

Can High-Choice College Set Be Linked to College-of-Enrollment?

Academic journal article College and University

Can High-Choice College Set Be Linked to College-of-Enrollment?

Article excerpt


College-bound students take an important step during the registration process for the college entrance exam and/or during the day of the examination when they identify the set of institutions in which they have an interest.

It is at this point, that the process of college choice is most in the students' hands. In asking that their scores be sent to a particular institution, the student is saying, "I know you're there, here I am." . . The student may already have applied to the institution, may have written for an application, or may simply intend to write for such an application. One thing, however, is certain: at that moment, a particular set of institutions can be said to be visible to the student (Zemsky and Oedel 1983).

College-bound students submit score reports (e.g., college report) to all types of institutions including public, private, four-year, two-year, selective, and nonselective (e.g., traditional, liberal, open). The number of college reports submitted to colleges for admissions consideration is usually much greater than the number of students who will actually enroll, particularly when the institution doesn't require a college report for possible admission.

The importance of accurately identifying the colleges students choose to attend, the process by which they reach their decisions, and numerous related factors cannot be understated. Given past and current research interests in the area of college choice, one might expect a relatively refined system for accurately predicting the number of students who will attend a given college/university. However, no such system has yet been devised based on our review of the literature. While researchers seek to better understand and define the process of college choice, it may well be that information currently in the college entrance exam databases can be used to make more accurate and precise predictions of the colleges students will attend.

Postsecondary personnel with enrollment marketing and management responsibilities, federal and state agencies and college administrators with fiscal and policy responsibilities, and researchers in fields as diverse as postsecondary education and business marketing continue their attempts to inform and advance our understanding of the college choice process. For each of these groups, the accurate prediction of which colleges students will choose to attend and the factors that affect the accurate prediction of those choices is critical.

In the past, choice set and/or college choice has been examined using various models (e.g., economic, sociological, and combinations of models) to determine which students will attend which colleges (Dembowski 1980; Zemsky, Shaman, and Berberich 1980; Chapman 1981; Jackson 1982; Douglas and Powers 1983; Erdmann 1983; Tierney 1983; Hearn 1984; Tierney 1984; Terkla and Wright 1986; Hossler and Gallagher 1987; Hossler, Braxton, and Coopersmith 1989; Manski and Wise 1993; Galotti and Mark 1994; McPherson and Schapiro 1994; Breland, Maxey, McLure, Valiga, Boatwright, Ganley, and Jenkins 1995; and Maxey, Lee, and McLure 1995). For instance, some researchers have examined socio-economic, academic, and other factors affecting college choice, while other researchers have examined the topic as a component in the enrollment management/projection process, and yet others as related to marketing research. Much has been learned about college choice in the past, but there is still a great deal more we can learn about this issue.

As students gather information about the colleges they are considering, they typically form a college choice set (Paulsen 1990) and eventually the college choice. The choice set is a term first coined and defined by Jackson (1982) as "the group of institutions to which students will actually apply" and college choice as "deciding which college or university a student will actually attend." We defined choice set (e.g. …

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