Date of Award

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Higher Education Administration PhD

First Advisor

Hinsdale Bernard

Second Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Third Advisor

Jerome Matthews

Abstract

Problem. Enrollment is declining in the majority of Seventh-day Adventist boardingacademies in North America, while it is increasing in a few. This study seeks to identify the more important factors related to increasing and declining enrollment trends.

Method. A basic causal-comparative study was conducted involving two groups of Seventh-day Adventist boarding academies, one with an increasing and one with a declining enrollment trend. A survey questionnaire was designed for educators, students, and parents/guardians affiliated with these academies to assess satisfaction and relevant perceptions and to rank the perceived importance of factors influencing enrollment trends, including Academics, Climate, Cost, Facilities, Leadership, Location, Mission, and Support. The statements were developed based on the findings from a review of literature, including the theories of Astin, Pascarella, Terenzini, and Tinto.

Findings. The most critical factors influencing enrollment for the respondents were Climate, Mission, and Academics. Cost was the weakest. There was no clear-cut distinction between respondents from academies experiencing an increasing and a declining enrollment trend on levels of satisfaction and perceptions of the factors that influence enrollment. Differences were evident in the relationship of socioeconomic status, church affiliation, and prior boarding academy experience of parents/guardians and levels of satisfaction, perceptions, and influences on enrollment. The findings supported the theories of enrollment, that it is not just one factor, but a combination of persons, systems, academics, and social influences that impact the decision to attend and stay enrolled in a private or parochial school.

Conclusions. Although a positive climate, excellent academics, and a focused mission are essential elements for maintaining stable enrollment levels, there still seem to be factorsoutside the eight identified in this study that could provide answers to the dilemma of declining enrollment trend in some of the Seventh-day Adventist boarding academies in North America. The value Adventists and other private and parochial organizations place on Christian education needs to be seriously assessed.

Subject Area

Seventh-day Adventist high schools--North America, Boarding schools--North America, School enrollment

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