COLLEGIATE CHOICE BEHAVIOR IN A CHRISTIAN DAY SCHOOL: AN ETHNOGRAPHY

DAVID LOWELL PHILLIPS, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The determination to enter college is not generally a spontaneous decision, but rather the result of numerous complex factors that have occurred over a long period of time. College choice research has typically employed experimental and quantitative measurement studies which deductively isolate questions and a hypothesis, which they then seek to prove.^ This investigation is inductive with questions and answers coming from the data. The research interest is in providing a description of the collegiate choice process and the meaning of actions and decisions within that process. The heart of this investigation is the presentation of case studies which describe why the students reacted to things the way they did and what the choices mean from the perspective of the participants. This research also provides a glimpse inside a fundamentalist Christian day school, a school setting often closed to outside investigation.^ Permission was granted to undertake this research at The Bible Academy, one of the most established and well-known Christian day schools in the mid-Atlantic region, having been in existence over thirty years with a current enrollment of nine hundred students (pre-K through 12). Fieldstudy research was initiated with the Academy's junior class and followed the participants' actions with regard to the choice process over two academic years. This extensive field research followed the participants not only through the school, but also with their families and communities.^ Five student portraits, representing four families, are presented along with an indepth description of the culture of the school which sought to influence the choice process. Going to college meant different things to the individual students of study and to the Academy. This investigation also suggests that the "sacred canopy" of religion encouraged by the Academy had varying degrees of impact on the student's choice process to the degree it was supported by their families and social networks. The family, and the networks which were allowed to impact it, were the critical factors in formulating postsecondary plans by the students under investigation.^ This study raises several important research questions that will require further investigation. One is to further explore the influence of what college attendance means to the student on the postsecondary planning process. Another is to determine if other private school settings which reflect particular ideologies have a similar influence on their students as seen in this investigation. Likewise, the surprising influence of the family seen in this research needs further exploration in other settings to see if similiar results are found. ^

Subject Area

Education, Religious

Recommended Citation

DAVID LOWELL PHILLIPS, "COLLEGIATE CHOICE BEHAVIOR IN A CHRISTIAN DAY SCHOOL: AN ETHNOGRAPHY" (January 1, 1986). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI8714936.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8714936

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