Retention

Survey: For Students Focused on Cost, Quality Takes a Back Seat

Affordability is a driving factor in deciding where to go to college for many students, according to Eduventures' annual Survey of Admitted Students.

The survey compiles responses from more than 100,000 high school students recently admitted to colleges and universities and breaks down those responses into seven decision segments, in an effort to help enrollment officers better understand student decision-making and improve the yield of the incoming class.

The seven decision segments identified by Eduventures include:

  • Affordability;
  • Availability of a desired program;
  • Reputation or academic quality;
  • Career outcomes or job opportunities;
  • Value of education for cost;
  • Feeling of fit; and
  • Proximity to home.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Four in five students said one of these decision segments drove their eventual choice;
  • Among the 57 percent of survey participants attending schools in their home states, affordability was the leading factor (cited by 24 percent of those repondents), followed by the offer of a desired program (14 percent);
  • First-generation, low-income and Latino student represented 69 percent, 70 percent and 70 percent, respectively, of all respondents and were most likely both to attend in-state schools and to say that affordability was the sole factor in their choice of institution;
  • Students attending private schools, comprising 27 percent of respondents, were most likely to say that reputation or academic quality was their chief concern (cited by 17 percent of those respondents), followed by career outcomes (14 percent) and the offer of a desired program (13 percent);
  • Students who chose based on affordability tend to acknowledge that alternative choices were as good or better based on quality, but prioritized cost; and
  • For students in the affordability segment, decisions are much more likely to be made with their families.

"Eduventures recommends that institutions work with their inquiries and admits during the enrollment cycle to understand their individual concerns," said Kim Reid, principal analyst at Eduventures and author of the study, in a prepared statement. "Knowing this information can help you communicate with students throughout the enrollment cycle, but is vital when admits are making their final decision. If you have an understanding of each student's main concerns and their likely Decision Segment, you can create a more relevant yield strategy."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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