Why Students Do (and Do Not)
By Kelly Milam
JSU News Bureau
November 21 -- Dr. James L. Thomas, Jacksonville State University associate professor of marketing and chair of the Enrollment Management Committee's strategic marketing plan for JSU, recently led a study entitled "Why Students Do (and Do Not) Attend Jacksonville State University."
The purposes of the study were to discover what factors applicants use in selecting a university, how JSU stands on these factors, and which secondary markets offer potential growth.
The data for the study were collected from students who had been accepted for admission into the university but who never enrolled or did not enroll in the semester in which they were accepted. The students were asked to complete a Survey of Accepted Applicants' Perceptions that was sent to them by mail. Five percent of the 2,720 surveys were returned.
The results of the survey showed that the top five criteria that students consider important when deciding which university to attend are
-- convenient location
-- type of academic programs
-- availability of financial aid, and
-- small class size.
Least important criteria included advertisements, social activities, and intercollegiate athletics.
Thomas said, "We knew that being a regional university, the main things that would probably draw students to JSU were the convenient location and the low cost of education. We scored very well with respondents on that."
Other criteria that students identified as why they considered JSU are the types of academic programs offered; faculty qualifications, hospitality, and friendliness; the beauty of the campus; and the Marching Southerners.
Many students identified finances, family obligations, and receiving a full scholarship elsewhere as reasons why they did not attend JSU.
Due to the study's findings, prospective students will possibly be seeing a difference in the emphasis of information that they receive from JSU. Although the university's printed materials and website were highly ranked, its television, newspaper, and radio advertisements were not. Thomas said that the committee hopes to see changes based upon that.
The next step in the study is to approach people who have not yet begun to consider JSU, such as high school juniors and seniors, and two-year college students, to see what their impressions of JSU are and to learn what is important to them when considering higher education. The committee also plans to launch electronic surveys each semester to follow up on the study and to look at how students' perceptions are changing over time.
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