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The analysis of Factors affecting choice of college: A case study of UNLV hotel College students

So Jung Lee William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration University of Nevada Las Vegas and Hyun Kyung Chatfield William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration University of Nevada Las Vegas ABSTRACT

The growth in the tourism and hospitality industry caused a tremendous increase in the number and type of tourism and hospitality programs at two and four year colleges in the United States. This study identified factors that influence students’ choices among in-state, out-of-state, and international students. The study utilized exploratory factor analysis to identify appropriate factors and multivariate analysis of variance to determine differences in college choices among the three groups. The results of this research will be beneficial to colleges in the development of appropriate promotions to differentiate themselves in a meaningful way to potential students, not just in the United States but also over the world.
Keywords: college choices, hotel college, higher education

specifying a variety of social and individual factors leading to occupational and educational aspirations (Jackson. (b) status-attainment models. and international students. as higher education has transformed in many ways. Las Vegas (UNLV). Jackson. 1999). and (c) combined models. (2000) has identified “push and pull” factors . Schmit. the current research employed a case study to understand college students’ choices. Another research approach to choice and decision-making in higher education considers three different levels of students’ choice: global. Riegel & Dallas. For this purpose. Tierney. 1999). and evaluation of the remaining options and final decision (Jackson. 2006). consisting of 34 % in-state and 66% out-of state students including international students (Theriault. This growth in turn fueled a tremendous increase in the number and types of tourism and hospitality programs at two and four year colleges in the United States (Goodman & Sprague. 1983. Zimmerman et al. 1991. account for 29 % of the students in the college of hotel administration. Institutions are now bringing students from all over the world. The higher education environments have become competitive and institutions increasingly have to compete for students in the recruitment markets (James et al.INTRODUCTION The college enrollment decision has become increasingly complex during the last 30 years. options consideration. These frameworks have been used to develop three theoretical. 1982). & Keene. First. American higher education has grown from a collection of small. the economic models focus on the econometric assumptions that prospective college students think rationally and make careful cost-benefit analyses when choosing a college (Hossler. 1984. Third.. for example. Jafari. 1997). Student migration and study abroad has become a huge business matched by tremendous investment. First. 1999). national. out-of-state students. The tourism and hospitality industry has experienced dramatic growth both in size and complexity during the latter half of the twentieth century (World Tourism Organization. 1978. 1997. Most combined models divide the student decision-making process into three phases: aspirations development and alternative evaluation. the global level focuses on why students choose to study abroad. the combined models incorporate the rational assumptions in the economic models and components of the status attainment models. & Vesper. local markets to regional and national markets (Hoxby. Second. the status-attainment models assume a utilitarian decision-making process that students go through in choosing a college. 1982). International students. especially among western countries. coming from 35 different countries.d. n. Haines. by selecting the Hotel College at the UNLV.). conceptual approaches to modeling college choice: (a) economic models. 2007). Somers. about 2500 students were enrolled in selecting the Harrah College of Hotel Administration (Hotel College) at the University of Nevada. LITERATURE REVIEW College Choice Many studies on college student decision-making use economic and sociologic theoretical frameworks to examine factors of college choice (Hearn. and curriculum level. The purpose of study was to identify factors that influence students’ choices and to understand the differences in college choices among in-state students. In 2007.

educational achievement (Hanson & Litten. size. (Price. easy access to home and institutional characteristics significant influenced significantly applicants’ choice of institution. and make their enrollment decisions (Hearn. Jackson. accommodation costs and family home proximity. Hossler et al. & Keene (2006) constructed for 2 2-year college choice with eight factors (Figure 1). 1982). net cost (St. Jame et al. One approach focuses on how aspiring students develop a college c evelop choice set. example. distance.. and institutional characteristics (Hanson & Litten. . 1982. 2003). assessment from the course including opportunities for flexible study. and availability of financial aid The aid. Jackson. John. decide where to apply considering admission criteria. approaches to teaching. 1984. Geography also imposes constraints on college choices. the quality of teaching in the course. for example James et al. financial variables (St. That most students ). graduate satisfaction from the course. 1984).. constraints attend public. Dreher and Poutvaara (2005) have suggested that economic and cultural forces play an important role in tvaara shaping the international students migration markets Second. 1982). 1984). 1982). (1999) James has identified a range of factors influencing course preference including: the reputation of the course among employers. 1989). the quality of programs. (1999) found that field of study preferences course and institutional reputations. 2008). 1991). more important for college students in England than their research profiles (Price et al. the national level discusses the markets. course entry preferences. in-state institutions implies that college options are circumscribed by state of state residence (Niu & Tienda. John & Starkey. 1982. social environment (Hossler & Gallagher. 1987). These factors include job opportunities to s supplement their incomes. the teaching reputation of universities has been on. Two different perspectives to understanding the complex college selection decision have emerged. The second approach emphasizes institutional characteristics such as cost. (2006) found that students consider more carefully economic factors in times of distress and financial difficulty. Haines. 1990. Third. The present study selected a conceptual framework for college choice that Somers. scores. 1995). aspirations (Chapman. choice of higher education institution within countries In Australia. factors most commonly associated with a comprehensive college choice model include ost student background characteristics (Jackson. learning and course. course of study decisions tend to be closely related to institutional choice decisions. Foskett et al. In addition. countries. graduate employment rates from the course. institutional climate (Chapman.which operate along the students’ decision decision-making process in the global market.

600 students enrolled in the Hotel College undergraduate program. Tuition and financial aid are different for each of these groups. The list of attributes was developed through an extensive literature review. The report claimed these sources are not well known. major. it is assumed that the significance of the various factors is not the same among these three groups of students. residency status. Job opportunities during and after graduation are not the same. METHODOLOGY Instrument This study utilized a web-based survey design. The report also found open houses. An online survey.The significant factors used to choose colleges among in-state. Also. Data Analysis . The 2009 Lipman Hearne paper sampled both public and private college students. Data Collection As for Spring 2010. out-of-state and international students might not be the same. and pretest feedback from students and faculty in the hotel college. Therefore. The questionnaire included factors of college choice. a self-administered questionnaire to examine motivating factors for students choosing Hotel College at UNLV. Qualtrics was employed to collect data. age. The study also found 26% of sampled students paid a specialist or advisor during the college decision process. They found solid performer students are more likely to enroll at a public institution in an economic downturn. about 2. This study used for the entire hotel student population at UNLV to investigate college choice attributes of the hotel college. country. This could affect job opportunities for students in their own countries. alumni. 2010. 64 dimensions of factors were utilized by measuring hotel college factors’ attributes on a 5-point scale with from 1 (not important) to 5 (very important). The study differentiated between “academic superstars” and “solid performers” based upon SAT scores. The study found economic downturns do affect some students’ chose of institution. Data was collected from April 1 – 30. dialogue with college friends. the reputation or recognition of a college might be different internationally than domestically. Also. and race. but very powerful to student’s decision making for their college. This study used a constructed model of college choice that uses factors in the combined models to understand the college decision. program reputation and overall reputation. influence factors were developed with a little modification to reflect influence factor scaling with 1= no influence and 5= very strong influence. In some states there are more scholarships available for in-state applicants to encourage attracting more high-achieving students. One section contained demographic questions regarding respondents’ gender. The study investigated the importance of total costs versus location. A list of currently enrolled undergraduate students in the Hotel College was obtained from a hotel college administrator. A Lipman Hearne report (2009) claimed parents are deeply involved and influential to their high-achieving children’s college choices. and admitted-student programs are extremely influential to students.

0005) and the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling adequacy (0. The factors were labeled as “School characteristic”. Differences in Factors among Groups A multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA) was applied to compare different groups in 11 factors of college choice (dependent variables).884). and influence items with a loading cutoff value of 0. indicating that using factor analysis on 55 attributes was highly appropriate. This study reports the 11-factor ML solution with oblique rotation because the ML represented extracted 11 factors with corresponding items closer to the factor structure postulated by the authors than the PAF solution.Data analyses involving several procedures conducted. reliability. MANOVA was conducted to identify the different current residency status that differentiates a set of dependent variables. The reliabilities for most factors were higher than . “Family support”. “Environment”. Independent variable included students . The maximum likelihood solution with oblique rotation of 64 attributes produced 11 factors based on eigenvalue criteria. RESULTS 296 students participated in the survey during the period of online survey. 268 of the 296 were useful to run data analysis. . and “Media”. “Facilities”. “Financial support”. Data was analyzed. it is considered acceptable internal consistency (Hair et al. in adition to the Scree plot. with the sizes of all 11 coefficients approximating . “Aspirations”. The reliabilities of the dimensions were assessed by Cronbach’s Alpha. and 125 international students. Both orthogonal and oblique rotations were used to determine if there were sizable correlations between extracted factors. 2006). The results of the exploratory factor analysis are reported below (Table 1). Two factoring procedures were utilized to determine whether the solutions are stable across the two procedures. whereas the PAF estimates communalities in an attempt to eliminate error variance from factors and maximize variance extracted by factors. “Degree benefit”.41 (delta = 0). Factor solutions form the ML and PAF procedures were very similar. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted to identify the number of dimensions on importance. Comparisons among the orthogonal and oblique solutions on the scales of college choice indicated that the 11 factors were correlated. The reliabilities for each factor were measured by Cronbach’s Alpha (Table 1). Respondents consist of 59 in-state. The final results of the common factor analysis of the remaining 55 items passed both Bartlett’s test of sphericity (p < 0.32 % of the variance. financial. In addition.80. and MANOVA. The ML approach estimates factor loadings that are most likely to have produced the observed correlation matrix. Factors of College Choice A preliminary extraction was conducted using maximum likelihood (ML) and principal axis factoring (PAF). 84 out-of-state. using SPSS 18. This analysis explained 66. “Career preparation”.40 for item inclusion and oblique rotation with both eigenvalue criterion and Scree Test. “Influencer”. the oblique rotation yielded more interpretable factors than the orthogonal rotation. however. using factor analysis. The reliability for cost was relatively lower. “Cost”.64.

Assumption of normality was met. but was considered to be robust to violation. and out-of-state (3.12. and family support as significantly important factors when choosing Hotel College compared to the other groups. which were extracted from exploratory factor analysis. statistically significant differences were found only between in-state (2. p <. and international students. 1. In regard to “Cost”. all ps < . Data was screened for outliers. In “Facilities”. 1.009. “Career preparation”. “Facilities”.0045 =. college administrations should consider the use of media to promote a school in a positive way.07) and out-of-state (2. There was a statistically significant difference among three different types of residency status on the combined dependant variables. p < .144. p < . . out-of-state.002 and p < . and news significantly influenced international students. p =.0005. there was a statistically significant difference between in-state and international students and between out-of-students.38).0005 and p <. no case was found. “Family support”. Bonferroni post hoc test with a conservative alpha level (0.77. thus Pillai’s Trace test statistic value was used. Box’s M test for equality of covariance showed significant differences in error variances across them (p<. “Influencer”. . The results indicated out-of-state students consider cost. The result is consistent with the population of Korean students.38) and between out-of-state and international students (2.05. out-of-state students.29. This indicates media can play an important role in attracting foreign students as they have limited access to school information.95).003. .0005). was no significant difference between in-state and outof-state students.. p < . respectively.26). “Degree benefit”. “Cost”. 1. However there was no significant difference between in-state and international student. 1. this research compared the differences in the factors among three different groups: in-state.05 / 11) was used. Furthermore.15. respectively. “Financial support”. Table 3 shows the results of the MANOVA analysis. followed by in the international group (2.05. However. 1.29). “Aspirations”. and the results extended previous research to find more factors such as degree benefit. there was a statistically significant difference among three different types of residency status. facilities. F (22. with the highest score found in the out-of-state group (3.19). CONCLUSION The study identified 11 factors of college choice. “Environment”.03.11. in “Media”. and “Media”.58. and in-state students (2.002 and p =. career preparation and media impact. statistically significant differences were found between in-state and out-of-state and between in-state and international students. In regard to “School characteristics”. statistically significant differences were found between in-state (2. as dictated by the central limit theorem. In regard to family support.003. soap opera. over the past decade. respectively. 1. p >. The results reveal the differences in factors of college choice among the three different groups.10. However there was no significant difference between in-state and international students. and international students. Lastly. 512) = 5.005 (using Pillai’s Trace criterion) with a strong association among different groups and each dependent variable (Table2). Particularly. p >. UNLV’s Hotel College has become much more recognized in South Korean due to media impact since Korean TV series including “Hotelier” in 2001 and “All-in” in 2003 were set in Las Vegas. Dependent variables included the college choice dimensions: “School characteristic”. An interesting result revealed media such as TV programs.002.

the research will be beneficial in developing appropriate promotions that college recruiters can use to differentiate their colleges in a meaningful way to potential students worldwide. 2009). the college choice process will become even more complex. according to a recent survey conducted by the American Association of Community Colleges (Streitfeld. Therefore. thus requiring closer attention to the specification of plausible choice sets. The results will be useful for college administrators to consider the management and presentation of its resources to the wide market place of current and future students.The current economic downturn and an increasing unemployment rate have led to college enrollment gains ranging from 2 percent to 27 percent in the 100 colleges in the United States. As the college population becomes more diverse and the higher education system continues to grow. .

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932 -0.499 -0.731 0.496 0.748 0.85 0.775 -0.587 0.821 -0.646 0.594 -0.Items The size of the classes The total number of students The ethnic composition The student to faculty ratio The presence of an honors program The physical appearance of the campus Hotel College Alumni Current students Recommendation from Hospitality Industry person Recommendation from high school counselors College advisor The classes I took in high school The scholarships I received from this institution The scholarships I received from outside sources Availability of scholarships to in the Hotel program Table 1.596 0.404 0.432 F8 F9 F10 F11 -0.605 -0.436 0.513 0.651 0.456 0. Pattern Matrix Obtained from ML Solution (N=262) Sorted by Factor Loadings F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 F6 F7 0.678 -0.555 0.878 0.616 0.721 -0.537 Availability of financial aid to study in the Hotel program The opportunity for work study positions at the institution Marketability of Hospitality Management skills Opportunity to work in the Hospitality Industry Diverse positions available in Hospitality industry The academic reputation of Institution Opportunity to have a well paying job Expectation of high salary Hospitality Management program matches with personal philosophy Transportation Safety in Las Vegas The proximity of this institution to my home Las Vegas weather Location of University in Las Vegas Recreational facilities & Wellness center Cafeteria/ dinning commons Student health center The residence hall environment Student Union The quality of the library .519 0.769 0.645 0.762 0.539 -0.

32 23.18 41.49 54.844 12.67 5 0.41 62.435 -0.72 4 0.57 59.33 2.457 0.91 -0.91 11. Extraction Method: Maximum Likelihood.635 12.92 33.78 5 0.787 0.647 0.94 56.606 0.25 6 0.12 64.96 Facilities 1.636 Labela Eigen-value Variance explained (%) Cumulative Variance (%) KMO measure Bartlett’s test of Spericity Descriptive Statistics.685 0.483 0.89 6 0.841 Influencer 5.92 3.22 50.872 10.659 0.58 2.634 -0.42 2.53 46.63 6 0.07 5 0. Rotation Method: Oblimin with Kaiser Normalization.28 6 0.32 4.824 13.My parents’/guardians’ advice Parent’s expectation that you acquire a college degree My parents’/guardians’ income Availability of parents/guardians support Reputation of UNLV Hotel program Your desire to have a college degree My feelings about this institution before I applied for admission Desire to work in the Hospitality Industry The information I received through the mail about this institution The cost of living in the area where the institution is located The tuition cost of this institution The amount of debt in loans I will have when I graduate The prospects of landing a job after graduating Availability of working opportunity through this institution The availability of career counseling Time/credits needed to complete the major The number of alumni who obtained jobs in their fields Accepted transfer credits drama/soap opera News paper.18 9.83 53.17 2.74 Environment 2.40 6.15 38.62 0.09 25. Rotation converged in 25 iterations.48 54.624 -0.527 0.43 3 0. .842 Note.21 Degree benefit 3.792 7.869 10.04 5.56 31.893 12.808 15.55 26.03 14.702 -0.90 Cost 1.99 27.45 Family support 1. and Reliability Coefficients Mean Variance N Cronbach’s Alpha School Characteristics 14.9 6 0.682 -0.62 25.47 44.456 0.32 Aspirations 1.31 Career Preparation 1.553 0.803 11.86 57.884 0. News about hotel school TV advertising -0.367 3 0.04 1. a.000 16.546 0.90 66.Lable indicates the suggested factor name.43 Media 1.03 Financial support 3.41 35.

Mean Scores.63 (1.58 4.15 (1.09) 4.49) 1.29)d 3.85 (1.44 (1.94)c 2. d.03 (1.12) 4.07) c 1.85 (1.14 0.003 * 0.54 (1.88) 3.77 (1. p<. N=59 Mean (SD) F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 F6 F7 F8 F9 F10 F11 2.828.05) 2.45 (1.30 0.0005).201 0.14)d 4.84 2.20) 3.Table 2.090 0.12 (.02 (1.92 (1.84 11. and statistical significances a. Standard Deviations.12 (1. .88)c 3.28 (.18 4.16) 2.74 (1.02 (1.38) d 2.80 (. Mean’s with different letters (c.009 0.833 0.62 8.39 (1.95)c 2.42 (1. a Overall MANOVA tests of Pillai’s (p < .84 0.15(1.21 (1.54) 1.000 * __________________________________________________________________ Note.0045 or lower probability level.0045).001 * 0.74 (.38)d 2.b In-state Out-of-state International F-ratio Sig. b Box’s M (211.15 (.58 (1.001 * 0.0005) Bonferroni post hoc test was used.54) 2.42 (1.31) 2.34)c N=84 Mean (SD) 2.29 (.08 4.000 * 0.014 0.10 (1.05) 2.07 (1.22) 2.05/11=0.01 (0.78 (1.16) 3.99 5.36) 2.90) 2.000 * 5.88 /(1.04)d 7.11) 2.04)c N=125 Mean (SD) 2.43 7.88) 4.13)d 3. All variables were measured on a 5 point scale.44 (1. e) are significantly different at 0. The p-value with “*” are significant at the adjusted significance level of 0.26)e 2.11 (1.74 1.70) 4.62 (.23) 2.19)c 2.011 0.