Date of Award
College of Education and Professional Development
Type of Degree
John O. Andes
Dr. John D. Brisbane
Dr. Gene A. Budig
Daniel M. Chilko
Dr. Philip E. Comer
Dr. Edwin R. Smith
As documented in previous research, parents are an important influence in their child’s college selection process. However, little attention had been given to how parents themselves develop perceptions of or preferences for specific colleges under consideration. This study’s research design tested the null hypothesis:
"THERE EXISTS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PARENT(S) OF IN-STATE STUDENTS AND PARENT(S) OF OUT-OF-STATE STUDENTS IN THEIR FORMATION OF PERCEPTIONS AND PREFERENCES FOR WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY (WVU)."
A sample was drawn from a general population that consisted of the following three categories of students who showed interest in WVU for Fall, 1981:
- High school seniors who only had ACT test score information sent to WVU,
- High school seniors who were officially admitted to WVU, but Did Not Enroll at WVU in Fall, 1981,
- High school seniors who matriculated to WVU in Fall, 1981.
The research incorporated personal telephone interview methodology combined with a Structured Interview Guide developed by the author. Specifications of the telephone interview procedure and the associated interview guide are presented in the text. Numerous tables that show the personal traits of the respondents are also provided. Statistical analysis (primarily chi-square) was performed on the data. The majority of this analysis was presented by residency classification.
Treatment of the research findings was completed in sections entitled: Development of a College Choice List, Investigation of College Choices, Family Discussion of College Choices, and Establishment of Perceptions and Preferences for Colleges. The final section incorporated a special “perception” preference matrix. This matrix compared parent responses on 24 common factors related to the college selection process. Each factor was rated on a Better, Same, or Worse scale. Open comments made by parents during telephone interviews were also addressed in the findings.
Based on the chi-square calculations several significant differences were found to exist between resident and non-resident parents in relationship to the college selection process. The specific findings as to residency classification indicated that resident parents used somewhat different verbal and printed information than non-residents did for learning more about a specific college. Further, a campus visitation was a viable activity for learning more about a college, especially for non-resident parents. Parents of both residency classifications indicated discussion as to college choice occurred separately both with their spouse and with their child. Parents differentiated among various factors (i.e., academic reputation, location, cost, size, etc.) related to the colleges under consideration. Resident parents tended to rate academic issues higher while non-residents considered financial and logistic issues at the highest level.
Conclusions supported that parents were fully involved in their child’s college selection process. This was manifested in the amount and degree of investigation done by parents of both residency classifications.
Although much of the collected data was pertinent to West Virginia University, certain fundamental recommendations applicable to all colleges were cited. These included the need for a comprehensive state-wide parent "college information” program sponsored at the state level, the need for specific information directed solely to parents, the concept of a parent profile to determine proper informational needs, the importance to maintain a full-time campus tour office, the use of enrolled students in a student “ambassador” program, and the incorporation of image research into the admission and new student recruitment process. Reference to additional research was also presented.
The University of West Virginia College of Graduate Studies became the WV Graduate College in 1992 and was subsequently merged with Marshall University in 1997.
Hadsell, Carl Donald, "Perception of a university: a study of how parents develop preferences for an institution of higher education" (1982). Theses, Dissertations and Capstones. 1489.
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