The choice of an institution of higher learning such as a university is significant in the lives of a student because it shapes the future of the student. It is therefore important that the choice is made carefully and after considering all factors. This study established the factors that are considered by most students in the choice of the university.
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Using a sample of 30 students, the researcher collected data on the factors that were considered in the choice of university using a questionnaire that contained likert scale questions as well as open ended questions.
The study established that while most students considered financial costs, some considered availability of financial aid and loans for higher education. In addition, parental guide, help from friends, reputation of the institution and the quality of education in terms of availability of favorite majors were some of the factors considered.
Although universities offer significant value to the life of students, it is important to determine the best university for the student in order to maximize future success. For this reason, this study aims at establishing the factors that students consider while choosing the University for higher learning.
Educational institutions are important in the lives of children and especially young adults that seek to be successful in their lives. It is for this reason that the institutions that a person chooses for his/her children are significant. Many people and students consider many factors in the choice of college or university to join.
According to Collis and Hussey (2009, p. 94), there are many factors that students consider before choosing a college or university of choice. To begin with, most students consider the size of the institution they want to study.
Although small universities or college is considered to be academic oriented, they are usually established in residential places and may have few courses to offer. Similarly, such universities may have few options of extracurricular activities than larger academic institutions.
In a survey conducted by Sevier (1992, p. 34) to establish the factors that affect the choice of college among students, questionnaires were developed and sent out to a sample of 3325 juniors form various colleges. The questionnaires asked the students to rate the factors on their significance in determining the choice of college chosen.
The findings of the study indicated that most students consider the reputation of the college, the cost of attending the particular university, and the availability of aid in form of scholarship among other in choosing the university.
In another study that was conducted by Wenglinsky (1996) to establish reasons for attending a given college, it was established that African American students chose colleges and universities based on availability of substantial financial funding of their majors.
In addition, the location was a vital factor in the selection of the college. Local colleges and universities were preferred since their locations provided for cheap living conditions as compare to the urban universities and colleges.
However, the study also established that some students pursued urban colleges and universities because they could pursue employment opportunities in urban places.
According to Somers, Haines and Keene (2006, p. 56), there are four main factors that affect students in the choice of their universities and colleges. The first are academic issues, followed by social issues, personal issues and lastly financial issues.
For academic issues, they are considered by most students especially regarding the reputation of the institution. Most students prefer institutions with a good reputation with quality professors and a variety of majors.
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Therefore, the availability of majors is also an academic factor that is perceived as significant in the choice of the institution to study. Consequently, local universities that do not have a variety of majors are usually left out in favor of urban and modern universities.
Douglas (1997, p. 62) notes that some students such African Americans experience difficulties in the choice of college to attend given social challenges they face. Most of these issues are related to the atmosphere surrounding the University of choice and on-campus life in the halls of residence.
The life of students can be affected by the social life in campus in various ways. For example, African American students face some difficulties in getting accustomed to an environment that differs culturally from the one they had during their high schools time.
While some students experience culture shock, others feel isolated and are dissatisfied with the social atmosphere. Therefore, the racial climate is an important issue for students from other races. Social issues are closely associated with psychosocial stress for first year students who find it difficult to cope.
In a study conducted by Douglas (1997) to establish social issues students face in campus, it was established that several negative factors affected the studies of students and they included staff, underrepresentation of minority students, faculty and prevalence of racial and cultural separation.
Personal issues affecting the choice of university include encouragement and advice that one gets from other people mainly friends and family regarding the University of Choice.
According to Niu and Tienda (2008, p. 421), most students have well educated parents and relatives and this enables them to make decision regarding the university that they wish to join.
Parents and relatives usually want the best for children and would always select the best universities in order to achieve beyond the relatives’ educational levels. In addition, friends and self motivating factors aid in the choice of the university.
In a study conducted by Niu and Tienda (2008, p. 423), it was established that most students are determined to attend good universities and not just city colleges so that they can make the best for themselves.
Financial issues are crucial determinants of the university students attend. While most white students have able parents that can afford the best and costly universities, some students especially of the African American origin do face financial challenges and would always prefer universities with affordable fees and availability of financial assistance.
As noted by Somers, Haines and Keene (2006, p. 54), majority of African American students come from family backgrounds that earn less income as compared to the White students.
Therefore, when offered financial assistance, African American students are more likely to attend university since they will access higher education and they are already prepared psychologically as compared to white students who can easily access such education.
Summary of Key Issues
According to Niu and Tienda (2008, p. 421), it is clear that the choice of the university or college that a student attends is significant in the future career and success of the student. Therefore, the choice is significant and is determined by various factors.
To begin with, students do prefer universities with high reputation in all disciplines especially academics. For instance, universities that have a reputation that easily earns their graduates jobs easily. The other factor that influences the choice of university students attend is the financial factor.
While some students come from well off families that can afford education in most costly and high quality universities, students from minority groups prefer universities that are affordable and offer financial assistance.
Family influence too affects the choice of university with parents, relatives and friends participating in decision of the student regarding the choice of University. Lastly, social issues and character of the student is a major determinant.
While some students prefer universities that academic as well as extra-curricular activities oriented, some students pursue only academic oriented universities. In addition, the social environment, majors and location are significant factors too.
Research Design and Methodology
This study utilized a quantitative approach in which data was collected using questionnaires and interviews. A quantitative approach is significant and was chosen by the researcher because it utilizes numerical fast hand data thereby providing reliable results and findings (Cohen 1992, p. 161).
This contributes to the credibility of the study. A questionnaire with questions regarding the factors that students considered significant in the choice of university was developed. The questionnaire contained open ended and closed ended questions with some are likert scale questions.
For likert scale questions the scale ranged from 1 (no influence) to 5 (very strong influence). Other factors included in the questionnaire are the gender and race, residence status, country and major at the university (Siebert 1994, p. 79).
Collection of Data
A sample of 30 students was selected from the students in a classroom in the university and the researcher distributed questionnaires to them to fill regarding the factors that influenced their choice of the university.
The respondents were given a two day period to fill the questionnaires after which the researcher collected them manually after they were completed.
The collected data from questionnaires was analyzed through tabulation following thematic analysis, which is one of the many quantitative methods of analyzing data (Paulsen & John 2002, p. 209).
The study examined the collected data and after coding, tabulation was used to establish the results. Thematic analysis is significant in establishing the factors that led to the choice of the university for the respondents.
Quality of College
It was clear from the findings that most respondents regard this factor as very significant in the choice of the university. As shown in the figure below, 73% indicated that the factors is very significant with 17% indicating that it is more significant as compared to other factors such as the location and advice from friends among others. However, none of the respondents disregarded the factor.
The quality of education is closely related to the quality of the degrees and certificates that students get form the universities. The ease with which students get jobs after graduation is related to the quality of education offered.
Therefore, the ability to get a job after graduation is also a factor that determines the choice of the university, although it is closely related to quality, just as pointed out by the respondents (Cooper & Schindler 2006, p. 139).
Advice from Parent(s)
This is another very significant factor that should be considered in the choice of the university that one should join. As shown in the figure below, 57% of the respondent said that advice from parents was more significant than any other factor considered pointing out that most their parents were educated and had knowledge of the best universities their children should study in.
With 13% and 17% arguing that parental advice is more significant and significant respectively, it was clear that parents are the major funders of most student and would always be determinant in the choice of the university.
Reputation of the university
The reputation of the university is a very significant factor in the selection of the university. Universities that are known to offer best courses and majors in specific disciplines are always a preference over any other institution of higher learning. 16% said that this factor was very significant and should not be ignored while 29% said it was more significant.
Most respondents argued that their personal interests together with the reputation of the university were significant in determining the University of Choice. Students with business oriented minds would prefer joining universities offering social sciences while those with natural oriented minds would end up joining universities known for offering best natural science majors.
Finances and Availability of financial aid grants and loans
Finances play a significant role in the choice of university. Most students admitted that finances are significant since some courses are more costly than others while some universities offer courses at higher charges than others (Maylor & Blackmon 2005, p. 52).
Due to the costly nature of some courses and the inequality of income among parents, it is necessary for some student to obtain financial aid to help them in meeting the university studies.
From the study outcomes, it is clear that 30% and 23% of pointed out that financial aid and grants is very significant and significant respectively in the choice of university to attend.
Most of the students added a comment indicating that having come from a family earning less income, financial aid would help them attain higher learning as well as leaving their parents not strained.
A part from the above mentioned factors, it is clear that there are other factors that are considered important in the choice of university. Availability of extracurricular activities is one of the factors.
Some student that are focuses on developing their careers around sports consider joining universities that are centered around sports and can enable them develop their talent.
From the findings, the electronic media contributes on the popularity of the university and it therefore contributes to the choice of the university a student joins (Somers, Haines & Keene 2006, p. 57).
The website and social sites advertise the benefits of the university and students would only join a university they know.
These findings have confirmed the findings indicated in the reviewed literature that social factors, finances and reputation and quality of education are significant in the choice of the university since most students considered these factors while joining university.
Recommendations and Conclusion
From the study findings, it is clear that many factors are considered in the choice of university. Although parents have the duty of determining the university that their children join, it is important they consider the personal interests of the children.
For instance, students interested in developing their sporting talents should be left to join a university that promotes the given sport. While some students considered the finances to join the university, others consider social factors, availability of loans and grants, reputation and majors offered.
List of References
Cohen, J 1992, ‘Quantitative methods in psychology’, Psychological Bulletin, vol. 112, no. 1, pp. 155-159.
Collis, J & Hussey, R 2009, Business research: A practical guide for undergraduate and postgraduate students, Palgrave McMillan, Basingstoke.
Cooper, DR & Schindler, PS 2006, Business research methods, McGraw-Hill,London.
Douglas, K 1997, ‘Impressions: How first-year, African American students pictured a research university’, ASHE Annual Meeting Paper, vol. 1, pp. 62.
Maylor, M & Blackmon, K 2005, Researching Business and Management, Palgrave McMillan, Basingstoke.
Niu, SX &Tienda, M 2008, ‘Choosing college: Identifying and modeling choice sets’, Social Science Research, vol. 37, pp. 416-433.
Paulsen, M & John, E 2002, ‘Social class and college costs: Examining the financial nexus between college choice and persistence’, The Journal of Higher Education, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 189-236.
Sevier, R 1992, ‘Recruiting African American Undergraduates’, A national Survey of the Factors that Affect Institutional Choice, vol. 68, pp. 48-51.
Siebert, T 1994, Factors influencing the college choice process of full-time freshmen at Southwest Baptist University, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Somers, P, Haines, K & Keene, B 2006, ‘Toward a theory of choice for community college students’, College Journal of Research and Practice, vol. 20, pp. 53-67.
Wenglinsky, HH 1996, ‘The educational justification of historically Black colleges and universities: A policy response to the U.S. Supreme Court’, Educational Education and Policy Analysis, vol. 18, pp. 91-103.