Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Gustavo Gregorutti

Second Advisor

David S. Penner

Third Advisor

Noha Daher



It is estimated more than 75% of Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) college-bound students (rising freshmen) who live in the North American Division (NAD) do not attend an SDA college/university. This is a major challenge for the NAD colleges/universities. Discovering motivators and barriers for SDA college-bound students is vital in understanding what influences this population in their college choice selection.


This is a quantitative, cross-sectional, comparative study. An electronic survey using Qualtrics was sent to over 14,000 students with 461 respondents as the sample size. Respondents were sorted into four study groups, using the type of high school attended and the type of college selected to attend. Comparisons of SDA college awareness, college choice motivators and barriers, and composition of messaging were analyzed using Chi-square, standard residuals, and perceptual maps.


Rising freshmen who selected to attend a non-SDA college considered quality of education and price/cost as important criteria in college choice selection. Rising freshmen who selected to attend an SDA college considered spiritual life on campus and quality of education as important criteria in college choice selection. Lack of awareness of NAD SDA colleges/universities is a major obstacle. Students who do not attend a SDA academy and chose to attend a non-SDA college, are more than two times less aware of SDA colleges/universities than students who do attend a SDA academy. The lack of awareness correlates to these students reporting low or no recruitment activities from SDA colleges/universities. It appears the lack of a database of school-age church members is a major barrier.


This was a comparative study of Sauder’s (2008). The studies collected data 13 years apart. Both studies discovered a lack of awareness among rising freshmen. In order to increase enrollment at SDA colleges/universities, the SDA denomination must prioritize the creation of a robust database with all members, but especially those who are school age which includes elementary, high school and college/post college. It must be updated and maintained consistently. Research must continue on a regular, basis and not have lapses of such great length. This would assist with updated strategies created for messaging, recruiting, marketing and advertising. The colleges/universities and SDA denomination must appreciate this as a continuous collaborative effort.

Subject Area

Education, Higher; Motivation in education; College choice; Seventh-day Adventist--Education