Date of Award:

12-2012

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Advisor/Chair:

Deborah Byrnes

Abstract

This was a study about the New Century Scholarship (NCS) program offered to Utah high school students at commencement for earning an AA degree by the time of high school graduation. The scholarship paid 75% of the remaining 2 years of tuition over a 5-year period. The goal of the program was to assist students to bachelor degree completion faster than the traditional time. This program has been in Utah for the past 20 years, but little to no information about the program exists. Annually, the cost to taxpayers is approximately $2 million dollars. This study was conducted to determine if the NCS expedites bachelor degree completion and if so for whom, and what variables on the career pathway assisted toward quicker completion. The Utah System of Higher Education emailed and mailed 613 surveys to graduates from the three cohort groups of high school graduates earning the NCS from 2004-2006. The response rate was 56%. This response rate was high enough to generalize results. Descriptive data, statistical analysis, and multiple-regression tests were run on the data. Perhaps, the most significant discovery was the fact that the NCS does expedite bachelor degree completion for both males and females with time to completion of 3.57 years on average. The significant variables in this study were: gender, choice of college major, and college selection. Females did complete their degree earlier than males by half a year and females tended to major in art, social science, and education, while males were more likely to major in business and STEM. Students could also graduate at least 1 year earlier depending on the college or university they selected to attend.

Another very important finding was the rate of completion with a bachelor degree. Eighty-three percent of the recipients who responded to the survey had completed their bachelor’s degree. For this group of respondents, the matriculation rate from high school graduation to college was 100%. Using multiple-regressions analysis, several additional variables were identified that expedited bachelor degree completion for these scholarship recipients. These variables were attending school full time, enrolling in and attending only one college, and the acceptance of the AA courses the student had completed by the college toward their bachelor degree. Variables such as quality of counseling, GPA, finances, and other life circumstances, with the exception of religious service were not significant in this study. The workforce of the future will need to have more education than ever. In order to meet these demands Utah has a goal of 66% of the adult population ages 20-64 earning a postsecondary certificate or degree by 2020. The NCS program was successful in expediting graduation and the NCS recipients had a higher than average college graduation rate. It is one way Utah and perhaps other states can help students to gain faster access to a degree in higher education.

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