Journal of Nursing Education

Major Article 

School of Nursing Variables Related to Male Student College Choice

Thomas Kippenbrock, RN, EdD

Abstract

Minimal attention has been given to targeting men as a source of nursing school applicants. In this study, a survey was conducted of all U.S. baccalaureate programs accredited by the NLN. School variables and recruitment strategies related to male application and enrollment rates were identified. Consisting of 5.3% of the average school enrollment rate, men remain a minority in nursing schools. Twelve percent of the schools reported no men enrolled in their programs. Seventy percent of the schools reported no effort to recruit men. Schools with higher male application and enrollment rates had lower educational costs, more male faculty, more doctorally prepared faculty, larger gift and endowment funds, and provided expense paid visits to the campus for high school personnel. Only a few isolated schools recruited men into their programs with success.

Abstract

Minimal attention has been given to targeting men as a source of nursing school applicants. In this study, a survey was conducted of all U.S. baccalaureate programs accredited by the NLN. School variables and recruitment strategies related to male application and enrollment rates were identified. Consisting of 5.3% of the average school enrollment rate, men remain a minority in nursing schools. Twelve percent of the schools reported no men enrolled in their programs. Seventy percent of the schools reported no effort to recruit men. Schools with higher male application and enrollment rates had lower educational costs, more male faculty, more doctorally prepared faculty, larger gift and endowment funds, and provided expense paid visits to the campus for high school personnel. Only a few isolated schools recruited men into their programs with success.

Introduction

Nursing in higher education is in the midst of a period of great change. School of nursing administrators have been faced with declining enrollment, dwindling fiscal resources, and societal demand for public accountability. A shrinking pool of traditional age, college-bound female students who are attracted to career options in other fields have resulted in nursing school enrollment declines. To offset the declining enrollment, an emphasis on recruitment of men has taken place in some schools of nursing (Bergman, 1985). A few schools of nursing in certain states have doubled and almost tripled the national average of men enrolled in their programs. Conversely, other schools of nursing have almost negligible male representation (Nursing Student Census, 1986).

While there has been substantial research on factors affecting students' educational levels, aspirations, and decisions to attend or not attend college, little attention has been given to the determinants of institutional attractiveness to college students (Chapman, 1981). No research has been conducted regarding characteristics of nursing schools that affect attractiveness to prospective students and, in particular, men. According to Powers and Douglas (1985), differences exist between men and women in their selection of a college.

The problem of this study was to investigate nursing school variables and recruitment strategies related to male application and enrollment rates in nursing school programs.

Review of Literature

Chapman (1981) presented a general conceptual model of student college choice. Student characteristics and external influences are the two major components of this model. The external influences of cost, location, and availability of desired programs (fixed college characteristics) are within the power of the institution to effect and modify over time but are relatively stable. A college's efforts to communicate with students is another external influence which contributes to the student's general expectation of college life which, in turn, influences student college choice. Fixed college characteristics and the college's efforts to communicate were the focus of this study.

Anderson (1976) reported that colleges and universities were more attractive if they had low tuition, well-credentialed faculty, fiscal strength and research orientation. Public schools with larger proportions of doctoral faculty per student, instructional and research dollars per student, gifts and endowments per student, and instructional facilities per student were able to attract a larger number of qualified students.

The research on student recruitment and marketing has been limited to the effectiveness of specific college recruitment techniques in attracting students. High school visits by college admission representatives and college visits by prospective students were considered the most effective recruitment activities (Dominick, 1980). Redman and Cassells (1985) conducted a study of student recruitment practice in baccalaureate nursing programs. They developed an instrument to gather data about the use and perceived effectiveness of recruitment strategies. Providing flyers, brochures and bulletins; participation in open houses, career days, health fairs and local community events; and maintaining relationships with high school counselors and nursing practice personnel were used and rated very effective or effective by more than half of the respondents. Other recruitment strategies included invitations to applicants to visit the campus, rapid follow-up to inquiries and appointments for advising, and collaboration with other colleges of nursing for recruitment. Of the sampled schools, only one third had made specific efforts to recruit men into their programs. A number of respondents indicated that they did not specifically recruit men because they presently had men enrolled.

Method

A survey instrument was the primary method of data collection. The tool consisted of multiple choice questions, open-ended questions and ten 5-point Likert-type items. Guidelines for instrument development of nursing school factors were obtained from Anderson (1976) and Chapman (1981). Recruitment strategy guidelines were from Redman and Cassells (1985). The survey was reviewed for appropriateness of content and clarity of language by five experts. Based on their suggestions, revisions were made. In this study the alpha coefficient for the Likert-type total scale was .74; alpha coefficients for the five factors ranged from .69 to .75.

The eight independent variables used in the study were geographic factors, public or private affiliation, faculty characteristics, program resources, cost, admission criteria, class size and recruitment strategies. The dependent variables were male application rates and male enrollment rates.

The population was all baccalaureate schools (486) of nursing accredited by the NLN. The list of schools was derived from Baccalaureate Education in Nursing: Key to a Professional Career in Nursing 1986–1987. The survey was mailed to the chief administrator of each school. A second request was sent to those schools not responding to the first mailing. A total of 279 baccalaureate programs returned the inventory resulting in a 66% response rate.

Results

Demographic characteristics of the schools of nursing are shown in Table 1. Public-funded schools consisted of approximately 55% (154) of the cases and private-funded schools were approximately 45% (125) of the cases. Urban schools comprised 53% (147) of the cases; 47% (132) were rural schools. Commuter schools comprised 54% (150) of the cases; 46% (129) were residential schools. The North Central region of the United States had the largest representation of schools with 33.3% (93) followed by the Northeast with 21.9% (61), Southeast with 19.4% (54), West with 12.9% (36), and South Central with 12.5% (35). The average school of nursing male enrollment rate was 5.3%. The most frequent male enrollment rate was 2% (35). Other frequent enrollment rates were 3% (33), 5% (32), 4% (30) and 1% (22). It is noteworthy that 23 schools had a 0% male enrollment rate as Figure 1 illustrates. The most frequent male application rate was 3% (26). The next most frequent application rate was 0% (23) followed by 6% (21), 5% (17), 4% (16), and 2% (16) as shown in Figure 2. Seventy percent of the schools reported making no efforts to recruit men.


Demographic Characteristics of Schools

Table 1:

Demographic Characteristics of Schools


Frequency Distribution of Male Enrollment Rates

Figure 1.

Frequency Distribution of Male Enrollment Rates


Frequency Distribution of Male Application Rates

Figure 2.

Frequency Distribution of Male Application Rates

Correlations were computed for each of the independent variables against male application and enrollment rates as shown in Table 2. Significant positive relationships occurred between both male application (r = .14) and enrollment rates (r = .13) and the faculty characteristic of male faculty. This indicates a tendency to have higher male application and enrollment rates in schools with larger numbers of male faculty. There was also a significant relationship between both cost of education factors [tuition cost (r = –.13) and room and board cost (r = –.11)1 and male enrollment rates. This indicates a tendency to have fewer males enrolled when the cost of education was high. The only recruitment strategy that was significant was invited high school personnel visits to male enrollment rates (r = .17). Nursing programs with higher male enrollment rates invited high school personnel to visit their campus. The other institutional factors and recruitment strategies were not statistically significant.


Correlation of Male Application and Enrollment Rates with Significant Institutional Variables and Recruitment Strategies

Table 2:

Correlation of Male Application and Enrollment Rates with Significant Institutional Variables and Recruitment Strategies

The stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that the combined independent variables of doctoral faculty per enrolled male student and gifts and endowments per enrolled male student had a multiple R of .23 and in combination accounted for 23% of the variance as shown in Table 3. More men applied to schools that received larger gifts and endowments and employed more faculty with doctorate degrees.


Multiple Regression Analysis of Nursing School Factors with Male Application and Male Enrollment Rates as the Dependent Variable

Table 3:

Multiple Regression Analysis of Nursing School Factors with Male Application and Male Enrollment Rates as the Dependent Variable

Discussion

Leaders of nursing programs must be aware of the program factors and recruitment strategies that attract males into schools of nursing. Cost was a concern to male students in the study. There was a tendency to have fewer males enrolled when the cost of education was high. These results compare with the findings of Davis and Van Dusen (1975), Brodigan, Kent, and Litten (1981), and Chapman and Jackson (1984) in which the cost of education influenced student college choice.

The social economic status (SES) of the male nursing student could be a factor in explaining the influence of cost. Pudov (1976) found that male high school seniors interested in nursing had a tendency to come from a lower SES than female high school seniors. There was a tendency for the fathers of male students to be blue collar workers while the fathers of female students were white collar employees. If the parents' contributions to their son's nursing education is minimal, the cost of education will play an important role in attracting a student to a school of nursing.

In the study, more men were found to have applied and enrolled in schools of nursing that had larger numbers of male faculty. Role model theory could explain these results; male students were attracted to schools that had more male faculty. The male students may perceive a closer collegial relationship with male faculty. They may also desire to emulate male faculty. Possibly, they perceive the male faculty as being successful in a female profession.

Consistent with Anderson's (1976) study, more men applied to schools that received larger gifts and endowments and employed more faculty with doctorate degrees. The schools with higher academic reputations had a tendency to attract more male students. Schools of nursing need to continually improve the quality of their institutions. Well-credentialed faculty and the establishment of substantial gifts and endowment funds may have an impact on attracting male students.

Of the 10 specific recruitment strategies investigated in the study, only one strategy was significant. There was a tendency to have more males enrolled in schools of nursing that provided expense-paid visits to the campus for high school counselors. High school counselors are very influential in student college choice and must have the necessary information to guide students. Taylor and Richter (1969) reported that, other than nurses and physicians, school counselors are the most significant people influencing freshman nursing students. This study's results confirm the findings that informed counselors influence prospective male nursing students.

A word of caution must be expressed regarding the generalization of the results found in the multiple regression analysis. There was a large amount of variance left unexplained by the variables in combination which suggests the need for continued identification of explanatory variables as well as research into the ways in which they act in combination to affect outcome.

Conclusions

The following conclusions and recommendations have been developed to guide and direct faculty, administrators, and student service personnel in schools of nursing.

  1. Schools of nursing should strive to keep the cost of education as low as feasible.

  2. Schools of nursing should employ increased numbers of male nursing faculty to be role models for male nursing students.

  3. Schools of nursing should provide expense-paid visits to their campus for high school personnel who career counsel male students.

  4. Schools of nursing should continue to improve their academic reputation by recruiting well-credentialed faculty and establishing substantial gift and endowment funds.

  5. Further study should be given to nursing school factors (e.g., financial aid, program resources, and faculty characteristics) and recruitment strategies that attract male nursing students into other types of nursing programs such as associate and graduate degree programs.

References

  • Anderson, R.E. (1976) Determinants of institutional attractiveness to bright, prospective college students. Research in Higher Education, 4, 361–371. doi:10.1007/BF00991629 [CrossRef]
  • Baccalaureate education in nursing: Key to a professional career in nursing 1986–87. (1986). New York: National League for Nursing, Council of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs.
  • Bergman, E. (1985). Schools alarmed by downturn in applications: “Pool is down in quality and quantity,” some say. American Journal of Nursing, 85(11), 1292–1300. doi:10.1097/00000446-198511000-00035 [CrossRef]
  • Brodigan, D.E., Kent, D. & Litten, L.H. (1981). The effect of concern about price on application choices between public and private higher education institutions. Cambridge, MA: Consortium on Financing Higher Education.
  • Chapman, D.W. (1981). A model of student college choice. Journal of Higher Education, 52, 490–505. doi:10.2307/1981837 [CrossRef]
  • Chapman, R.G. & Jackson, R. (1984). The influence of no-need financial aid awards on the college choices of high ability students. Paper presented to the annual meeting of College Boards. , New York. .
  • Davis, J.S. & Van Dusen, W.D. (1975). A survey of students' values and choices: A pilot study of relationships of students' values, perceptions and choices of institutions. New York: College Entrance Examination Board.
  • Dominick, C.A. (1980). Effective admissions practices: A national survey. National ACAC Journal, 24,19–24.
  • Nursing Student Census 1986. (1987). New York: National League for Nursing.
  • Powers, D. & Douglas, P. (1985). Gender differences in selection of an institution of higher education: A discriminant analysis. Psychological Reports, 56, 295–298. doi:10.2466/pr0.1985.56.1.295 [CrossRef]
  • Pudov, M.H. (1976). High school seniors attitudes and concept of nursing as a profession. (Survey Report No. DHEW-HRA-76-35). Bethesda, MD: Health Resources Administration.
  • Redman, B.K. & Cassells, J.M. (1985). Generic baccalaureate programs: Description of administrative structure and student recruitment practices. Journal of Professional Nursing, 1, 172–181. doi:10.1016/S8755-7223(85)80145-9 [CrossRef]
  • Taylor, J.K & Richter, F.S. (1969). What motivates students into nursing?Journal of American Hospital Association, 43, 59–61.

Demographic Characteristics of Schools

Demographic Characteristics%Number
Public55.2154
Private44.8125
Urban52.7147
Rural47.3132
Commuter53.8150
Residential46.2129
Region
  Northeast21.961
  North Central33.393
  Southeast19.454
  South Central12.535
  West12.936

Correlation of Male Application and Enrollment Rates with Significant Institutional Variables and Recruitment Strategies

VariablesApplication RatesEnrollment Rates
-male faculty.14*.13*
-tuition.00−.13*
-room and board.01−.11*
-high school personnel visits−.05.17*

Multiple Regression Analysis of Nursing School Factors with Male Application and Male Enrollment Rates as the Dependent Variable

VariablesMultiple RR2R2 ChangeBetaF
-Doctoral faculty per enrolled male student.15.02.02.156.56*
-Gifts and endowments per enrolled male student.23.23.04−.228.76**
Authors

Thomas Kippenbrock, RN, EdD is Assistant Professor, Indiana University School of Nursing, Indianapolis, IN.

This study was partially funded by Alpha Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau International.

Address reprint requests to Thomas Kippenbrock, RN, EdD, Indiana University School of Nursing, NU 436, 610 Barnhill Drive, Indianapolis IN 46202.

10.3928/01484834-19900301-08

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