Free Paper: Aligning the Enrolment of Students with Placement Opportunities by Universities in Rural Pennsylvania

Published: 2022-03-25
Free Paper: Aligning the Enrolment of Students with Placement Opportunities by Universities in Rural Pennsylvania
Type of paper:  Dissertation proposal
Categories:  University Students Employment
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1577 words
14 min read

Faculty Committee Member: To be Assigned

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The aim of this study is to investigate the efforts made by universities in rural Pennsylvania to align the enrolment of students with placement opportunities. The existing body of literature shows the need to increase placement to assist students stay in school and acquire the much-needed skills before entering the job market. This study is based on a possibility that universities in rural areas face creating a learning environment, where students can access placement opportunities. The issue of distance is a challenge since most companies operate in urban settings. A quantitative research method will be used to provide statistical evidence on the difference, if any, in enrollment in specific academic majors and actual placement. The study will also address measure the level of students' satisfaction with placement opportunities that universities in rural Pennsylvania offer. Lastly, the study aims at measuring the difference in perceived expectations of enrollment in specific academic majors and actual placement for rural Pennsylvania universities. A cross-sectional research design will be used to investigate Slippery Rock University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Wilson College, and Lehigh University. Using random stratified sampling technique, 30 willingness students will be surveyed. This will bring the total number of participants to 120. Information on enrolment and placement will be collected from four universities. Once collected, the data analysis will be conducted with the assistance of the IBM SPSS.

Section 1: The Problem

Problem Statement

There is an increased concern across the United States regarding the cost of tertiary education and the lower graduate rate among college students. Students and parents from all social and economic classes in the United States understand the need for higher education and the socio-economic benefits it brings. In Pennsylvanian, the efforts by the state government to support college students through financial aid are outpaced by the tuition fee increases across the state (Institute for Research on Higher Education, 2016). According to the Institute for Research on Higher Education (2016), all Pennsylvanian public higher learning institutions rank in the bottom half of the state affordability rankings. This poor ranking means that Pennsylvania is one of the states where college student attainment is problematic. Therefore, after completing college, it is critical for the colleges to assist students to secure decent jobs that can assist them to pay their loans and sustain their families.

A study by Leonhardt (2014) revealed that the increased number of students with debt who lack their certificates because they did not complete their studies is alarming. The rate that students find gainful employment in their area of post-secondary study and majors is a social responsibility for post-secondary institutions. Leonhardt (2014) points out that the debt value has up scaled from $3,517 to $8,500. Moreover, Leonhardt (2014) shows statistics of households with debt rose up to 14%. According to Carbone (2013), this problem is only for low income families giving students from rich families an advantage since they do not acquire significant college debt. Therefore, this research will assist in evaluating the extent of the problem in four institutions in rural Pennsylvania. They include Slippery Rock University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Wilson College, and Lehigh University.

Purpose of the Study

This study focuses on providing crucial empirical evidence on enrolment and the placement of graduates in the selected universities in rural Pennsylvania. Specifically, the study aims at showing the difference between students' enrollment in specific academic majors and the actual placement in post high school Pennsylvania universities. In doing so, it will be possible to determine the extent to which college students complete their studies to allow them access the opportunities that end up securing jobs after investing their time and resources in higher education.

Significance of the Study

This study aims at investigating rural Pennsylvania universities. For instance, one of the critical research gaps is how the selected universities (Slippery Rock University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Wilson College, and Lehigh University) in rural Pennsylvania assist students to access placement as they continue learning since most firms are found in urban areas. This study aims at addressing the limitations in a previous study by Abel and Deitz (2014) by controlling the variables to provide empirical evidence to show how rural universities in Pennsylvania are assisting their students to complete higher education and secure jobs. Focusing on Pennsylvania universities in rural makes this research unique. The findings will assist universities in rural Pennsylvania to develop strategies to increase students' completion rates. The study will provide the much-needed empirical evidence for the educators and policy makers to develop evidence-based solutions to the problem of dropout rates among college students. Background LiteratureThe National High School Alliance has designed a framework for stakeholders and leaders to plan and implement practices that align the school, community, state, and federal policy based solutions (Liekar, 2012). The Alliance notes six critical principles that are necessary to ensure to improve learning institutions. The six include empowered educators, learning environments suited for individual students, accountable leaders, integrated system of high standard and curriculum support, youth and community engagement (Liekar, 2012).

The Alliance argues that encouraging students to pursue rigorous works in an environment where the six principles are followed, an automatic alignment will be developed between course content and assessment. Moreover, the students will test their capabilities and have an added advantage to obtain college credit and validation as well as access a post-secondary placement. The perceived alignment and these six elements might be a good resource for survey materials. On another note, many college graduates will not find employment in their area of study and many more will fail to succeed and develop as a professional in their area of professional study (Reporter, 2013; Salcito, 2014). A longitudinal study by Materne, Henderson, and Eaton (2017) demonstrated how Australian universities cooperated with health care facilities to improve the employability of students through student nurses' clinical placements. In a similar research, Trede and McEwen (2015) explored early placement experiences among Australian students by focusing on the ways to keep students enrolled and persist with their studies. The findings showed that retention and employability were the main benefits association with such early students' placement. Other studies by Jackson (2016) and Elijido-Ten and Kloot (2015) also show how higher learning institutions can use placement as a good way of increasing students' completion rates. The evidence from Australia and other parts of world can be used to create a framework for investigating rural Pennsylvania as an environment for learning and placement. As Trede and McEwen (2015) noted, the effectiveness of the collaboration between the employer and a university is critical in providing a favorable learning environment. This argument point out a possible challenge associated with rural areas, where distance keeps learning institution and willing firms apart.

According to Luis Santos and Haycock (2016), the costs associated with tertiary education have increased exponentially. Therefore, the successful placement in First Career Choices is not a guarantee that a student will complete his or her studies. A study by Contreras and Contreras (2015) demonstrated that college students' success and completion rates remained significantly low due to the financial constraints and other factors. Other studies also show low completion rates among American university students, especially in low income families (Armstrong & Zaback, 2014; Institute for Research on Higher Education, 2016). The extent of the challenge can be defined better by the findings in a study by Carbone (2013), which showed that 1% of the American population controls most of the national wealth. This reality means that the majority of financially needy college students will always find it difficult to complete the studies.

According to the AFT Higher Education (2016), it is the responsibility of the institutions to ensure the enrolled students achieve success after completion of their studies. The learning institution should have a shared understanding of the definition of student success. AFT members view student success as the ability of scholars not only to attain a degree but also to have the opportunity to participate in job training to improve their professional skills and have an added advantage in the employment sector. It is also essential for the faculty members of an institution to discuss how student success is articulated and refined to ensure students succeed in their educational journey. The evidence to show how Pennsylvanian universities are addressing the issue of placement and dropout rates is still limited. There is a need to bridge the existing gap of knowledge by conducting state-specific studies on the difference between students' placement and enrollment in specific majors. This study will address the research gap by revealing the challenges that students and universities in rural Pennsylvania face when searching for placement opportunities that fits their academic lifestyle. Hence, it is important to target specific regions within Pennsylvania to capture particular factors associated with such regions.

Theoretical Foundation

An appropriate theoretical framework is required to understand how higher learning institution prepares their students assist graduates to secure placements, where they learn practically before joining the job market. This study aims at showing a system that a graduate passes after enrolling before securing a job. Therefore, General Systems Theory (GST) is appropriate in bringing all variables together and showing their complex association. Specifically, the GST allows researchers to think of situations as systems that includes boundaries, environment, input, outputs, and transformation (Alter, 2015). In this case, the GST shows how universities can influence the system of higher learning to increase placement rates of graduate students. Using data on enrollment and placement offices, variables such as enrollment and placement can be used to show the relationship how they relate. Also, inclusion of students' satisfaction level will provide...

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