A descriptive study of factors influencing parental choice of high school selection for their middle school-aged children enrolled in Catholic grade school

Beatrice Margaret Drics-Bursten, Purdue University

Abstract

The purpose of this descriptive study was to examine the factors parents of middle school-aged children, enrolled in Catholic elementary school, identified as those having an influence on their selection of a secondary school for their child. With a shrinking pool of potential students in Catholic middle schools, competition for these students is keen among Catholic secondary schools in order to meet their sustainability enrollment levels. The study also examined the timing when parents began researching prospective secondary schools and when the final school selection decision occurred for their child. ^ The study provides an overview of historical and current Catholic elementary and secondary school student enrollment trends. It discusses how some changes initiated during Vatican II effected the presence of religious personnel in Catholic school classrooms The wholescale change from the prevalence of religious teaching personnel to the current overwhelming majority of lay teaching personnel subsequently has affected the financial sustainability of these schools in addition to the affordability of tuition. ^ Parents indicated it was a combination of influencing factors that were considered, rather than one single overarching factor, determining the final selection decision of the secondary school for their child. The timing of when parents began to consider and research prospective secondary schools is years earlier than when the schools are initially contacting parents to promote and communicate their institution’s programs for student recruitment purposes. The timing of the final selection of a high school decision was indicated to have been made more than 12 months before by just under one half of the respondents in the survey. ^ This descriptive study provides parochial secondary school admissions and enrollment personnel a framework to consider by which to query their likely pool of parents to gain a more concise understanding of the factors that influence secondary education decisions for their children. Those with the responsibility to develop and implement recruitment and enrollment sustainability programs potentially can utilize the results to formulate and create custom marketing and recruitment strategies, and the timing of plan execution, to maximize the return on their efforts. Data was collected through a survey of parents with middle school-aged children currently enrolled in a designated Deanery of Catholic elementary schools in a large Midwest metropolitan city. ^ Key words: middle school student recruitment, Catholic secondary schools, influencing factors ^

Degree

M.S.

Advisors

Daniel O. Lybrook, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Religious education|Secondary education

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