The influence of academic self-efficacy and bachelor's aspirations on the college choice process
Frye Cook, Eulalie Elizabeth
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A significant decline in the number of students with bachelor's aspirations in early high school to the number of students who actually enroll has been reported and is as high as 49% (Roderick et al., 2008). To better understand this phenomenon, this study deconstructed the application process and examined factors that may be influential in completion of critical application steps. This study explored the construct of academic self-efficacy along with bachelor's aspirations using the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) to investigate the influence of these factors on two key steps in the college choice and application process: completion of a college entrance exam and submission of an application to a four-year institution. Two sets of logistic regression analyses were run to investigate the variables for each application step. Bachelor's aspirations were significantly associated with completion of both steps. English self-efficacy was associated with completion of a college entrance exam, but not application submission. Math self-efficacy was associated with submission of an application, but did not significantly influence college entrance exam completion. These findings demonstrate the dynamic nature of the college choice process and reveal how factors that influence key steps in the application process may shift over time. Results also reinforce the importance of fostering high aspirations early in a student's high school career (or even earlier) and the need to build well-rounded academic self-efficacy for students since they may draw on different sources at different points in the college application process.