Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




John R. Thelin


The purpose of the research was to model student choice behavior in order to gain a better understanding of the choices students made (a public four-year college, a private four-year college, or a public community college) and the variables which influenced those choices. The probability of selecting any one educational option was assumed to be a function of variables which reflected costs, income, and tastes and preferences. A logistic form of the demand equation was used which measured the effects of the independent variables on the likelihood that an educational option was chosen.;The study used a cross-sectional design, studying enrollment demand for 1985. The unit of analysis was the local political jurisdiction, either a Virginia city or county.;Financial burden (the ratio of tuition and required fees to median income) was found to have significant positive effects on the probability of choosing a private four-year college, and significant negative effects on the probability of selecting a community college. Local wage rates and unemployment rates were found to be significantly and positively related to choosing the community college option. The local educational completion rate for adults proved to be significantly and positively related to the probability that either a four-year private or the four-year public college was chosen.;The coefficient of determination was highest for the public four-year college option. The community college option, however, had the greatest number of statistically significant independent variables, and appeared to be most in harmony with human capital theory.;Future research can be directed in three areas. First, the effects of the independent variables on full and part-time students should be examined separately, to explore the degree to which the ability of part-time students to work and attend college influences their choices. Second, additional research is needed to confirm and explore why the probability of selecting a private college increases as financial burden increases, and to what extent this is due to substitution of public colleges for private colleges at lower levels of financial burden. Third, future research should explore and refine the concept of the educational options open to the students, perhaps initially by characterizing college options along institutional selectivity and price dimensions. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.).



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