Date of Award

Spring 1994

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Inderrieden, Edward

Second Advisor

Martin, Thomas

Third Advisor

McDonald, Daniel


The purpose of this study was to identify cognitive and affective variables used by students and parents in the process of selecting a college or university. The study also looked at differences between these two populations as well as differences among students, based on gender and their professed reasons for attending college. Through the analysis of student preferences immediately prior to matriculation, this project attempted to gain further information about the nature of the college choice process, and specifically about the degree to which student perceptions late in the process may be swayed by more personal and intangible variables. The Entering Student and Parent Surveys were used to gather information about the importance of panicular institutional variables to a sample of 521 entering students and 260 parents of new students during the 1993 Marquette University New Student Orientation program. Additionally, information was gathered on the reasons why the students attended college, selected particular majors and professed interest in career areas to allow for the students to be categorized into one of four groups according to a theory of Academic Orientation. Factor analytic techniques were used to reduce the data for subsequent statistical analysis to determine the presence of differences according to the gender and academic orientation of the students as well as between students and parents. Additionally, follow-up interviews were completed with a sample of fifteen new students during the Spring semester, to allow for in-depth questioning regarding their choice of college. Results indicated that 30 of the institutional variables used to assess student and parent reasons for selecting a college could be reduced to six factors, which were then classified as either affective or cognitive. Significant differences were found between the students and parents, for two of the factors. Significant differences between male and female students were found for two of the factors. In terms of the academic orientation categories, significant differences existed between all of the four groups for each factor.



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