Factors Affecting the Decision of Graduating High School Students in Choosing a College Course

Table of Content


Graduating high school is a time where young adults venture into the world of grown-ups. Several students try to get into college and choose a course wherein they could learn something related to a career they want. Most of the time, it determines the profession that a student will undertake in the future. Choosing a course carefully is an important aspect which will give conclusion to a student’s academic endeavor. The researchers have decided to make a study about the factors that graduating high school students consider in choosing a college course.

We will be providing you with information that will cover various factors such as: having better job opportunities, pursuing your passion, etc. We believe that this research will help students and parents alike in choosing a course. Also, we would like to present it to colleges and universities in order for them to promote their education based on the preferences of high school graduates. The researchers have found an importance to this study for the reason that almost all high school graduates go through a hard time in trying to single out a course that will be a determining factor of what their vocation will be in the near future.

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Due to the number of courses today, a student graduating high school may find himself in a difficult situation. We understand how important it is to pick the right course since different people have a different set of skills. No one course will suit everyone. Background of the Study Many of the youth today are confused and uncertain as to what path they should follow after their high school days. During the 1960’s and even today, people who graduated college found more job opportunities available to them than those who had a lower form of education.

We believe that students who graduate college with the course suited for them will even have a higher percentage of landing a job. College education is quickly becoming a requirement to almost any career field. We can see that higher paying positions require at least a bachelor’s degree. A couple of decades ago, it was usual to see students finish high school and quickly find jobs in areas such as industry. Industrial jobs, however, are quickly being replaced by overseas workers and technology. These changes in the marketplace make obtaining a college education important as to acquiring a job.

Out of the many courses to choose from, the choice we make will shape our future. After acquiring a diploma in high school, we must have the right vision before going to college. As we have stated earlier, college graduates have a higher percentage in landing a job. Also, college education will provide you with a better income potential than those who only have a high school diploma. And not only that, but you will also become more knowledgeable and well-rounded in the area of expertise that you choose. You might think that college is just high school continued, but it’s not.

College opens doors for you that high school doesn’t. And college can change you and shape you in ways that you might not imagine. Thanks to all the knowledge, skills and experience you’ll gain in college, you’ll be able to adapt to a greater variety of jobs and careers. College work will challenge and inspire you. In college, you will be able to explore subjects in greater depth than you did in high school, choose your own courses and class schedule, decide which extracurricular activities you’ll focus on — and how much time you’ll give them.

College helps students develop into mature, responsible and independent adults. One of the great things about being able to choose your own courses is that you get the opportunity to explore. You can try classes in a lot of different subjects, or you can dive right into a favorite subject. You may choose to begin training for a career right away. Or you may pick a major after taking some time to check out your options. Colleges offer classes and majors in subjects you have studied in high school — plus many more that you haven’t.

As you take on college work and participate in college life, you’ll encounter new ideas and challenges. Along the way, you will be able to build knowledge, skills and brainpower, discover new passions, follow and satisfy your curiosity, learn more about yourself, bond with new friends, and prepare for a future in which you are better equipped to give back. Whatever your destination, college can help you get there — even if you don’t know where “there” is yet. Whether you’ve mapped out a long-term plan or you see new possibilities every day, college can help you become your future self.

After stating the advantages of going to college, we have come to a point where choosing the most suitable course for a student is crucial in firmly establishing the future of an individual. The researchers aim to help graduating high school students in making the right choice in their venture to college and thus reduce the number of shifters and also the years wasted in studying for a course that is not suitable for the student. For our study, the researchers have found it useful to familiarize ourselves with the students in Metro Manila and their preferences on what course to seize in the coming years.

There is a large number of graduating high school students in Metro Manila and we would like to narrow it down to graduating high school students in a selected public school in the said area. Theoretical Framework This section shows the theories that are used to understand the main research question. To know the factors affecting students’ career choice, the researchers employed Frank Parsons’ Trait and Factor Theory of Occupational Choice. Parsons states that occupational decision making occurs when people have achieved:

  • an accurate understanding of their individual traits (aptitudes, interests, personal abilities)
  • a knowledge of jobs and the labor market
  • rational and objective judgment about the relationship between their individual traits, and the labor market.

Because of his hypothesis on how people choose their occupation, he developed the concept of matching where it is possible to measure both individual talents and the attributes required in particular jobs and people may be matched to an occupation that is a good fit.

Therefore, when individuals are in jobs best suited to their abilities, they perform best and their productivity is highest. Conceptual Framework Using the hypotheses and assumptions of Parsons’ Trait and Factor Theory of Occupational Choice, the researchers conceptualized a model which explains the process on how students’ traits, students’ knowledge of jobs and labor market, and the rational and objective judgment of students about the relationship between individual traits and the labor market affect their decision in selecting a course.

The model used two important concepts of Parsons’ theory: students’ knowledge of jobs and labor market; and  objective judgment of students about the relationship between individual traits and the labor market. The concept which the researchers did not use on Parson’s theory is student’s traits. The researchers believe that aside from perceived students’ traits, there are economic, social and school factors that may affect a student’s career choice. This is the reason why the researchers employed personal, economic, social and school settings as factors which can affect a student’s career choice.

These three concepts are considered the factors which affect students’ career choice in college. The three solid lines represent that these three factors have direct effects on students in their career path for college. The broken line between personal, economic, social and school settings and knowledge of jobs and labor market represent the relationship between what students perceived as relevant factors on choosing a college course and the labor market. A broken line was used because it is a subconscious act where students match the perceived factors that may affect their chosen course with the jobs available on the job market.

Nevertheless, it is still considered an important factor in students’ career choice even though they are not aware that they are matching them. To understand the concepts explained, the researchers will explain these thoroughly. Personal, Economic, Social and School Settings as Factors in Choosing a Course. These are considered the perceived factors that may affect a students’ career choice in college. These are other elements that they take into consideration aside from their career interests.

Personal factors include perceived traits and employment opportunities; economic factors include tuition fee, scholarships, and family income; social factors are parents’ advice and other people’s advice such as teachers, peers, friends, etc. ; and school settings are facilities of the school, accessibility, school prestige and school environment. These can account for why some students enroll in, e. g. Computer Science rather than in Social Science because of employment opportunities. Students’ Knowledge of Jobs and Labor Market. Parsons’ concept of work states that occupations are composed of factors required in successful job performance.

These factors can be profiled according to “amounts” of individual traits required. A good example is an actuarial job. Actuary does not only require that a person is good in Math but is able to grasp and solve complicated Mathematical concepts. Therefore, companies hire BS Mathematics or BS Applied Mathematics for an actuarial job. Students’ knowledge of jobs and labor market will affect the course they will choose in college because of their idea of opportunities of employability in the job market. If a student perceived that BS Nursing will help him/her to work abroad, the student will take the course in college.

Their knowledge of jobs and labor market available is acquired through media, their teachers, family, peers, etc. Objective Judgment of Students about the Relationship between Individual Traits and the Labor Market. The researchers considered this as subconscious because the assumption of the researchers is that the students are not fully aware that they are doing it. The importance of this concept is that it links factors that may affect a students’ career choice aside from career interest and their knowledge on job availability on the job market.

It explains why even though some students are good in Biology, they would rather take BS Education Major in Biology than BS Biology since the job market allows them to have an employment in the educational field. Students’ Career Choice. This is the manifestation of the interplay among the three factors stated above. Statement of the Problem This study aimed to find out the factors affecting the decision of graduating high school students in a selected public school in Metro Manila in choosing a college course.

By understanding the preference of their children and benefits of a quality education, parents may be assured of a brighter future of their children. Moreover, this research will provide recommendations to colleges and universities in order for them to market or promote their courses offered based on the preferences of high school graduates. Scope and Limitations of the Study This study is limited to its scope in the determination of the factors affecting the decisions of graduating high school students in Metro Manila, specifically students from a selected public high school, regarding their college course.

Specifically, the research on the students involves the following:

  • The profile of graduating high school students in the selected public high school.
  • The personal, economic, social, and school settings as factors in choosing a college course.
  • Other possible factors that may affect the decision of a student in choosing a college course.

The researchers have conducted a survey in Ramon Magsaysay High School. The population of graduating high school students in Ramon Magsaysay High School is approximately 1,300 students.

The computed sample size was 306 students. Unfortunately, Ramon Magsaysay only allowed us to conduct a survey in four sections. Each section was approximately composed of 50 students. From a population of 200 students, we have come to a sample size of 133 students. Only 129 questionnaires were valid since we have voided 4 of them due to incomplete answers. Definition of Terms The following are terms used by the researchers in this study; words are defined for better understanding. Affect. It can be a direct or an indirect effect on a person’s decision. Career Choice.

These are the courses chosen by the students and are written on their application forms for colleges and universities. College. It is an institution of higher education which provides specialized courses. It can either be a 2 year courses, baccalaureate, vocational, or 4-5 year courses. Graduating High School Students. These are graduating high schools students as of SY 2012-2013 who will graduate in March 2013. Students’ Traits. These are student abilities which are objectified through grades, academic achievement, performance on their extra-curricular activities, etc.

Students’ Knowledge of Jobs. This is the knowledge on the available occupations. Students may or may not have an idea that a certain job exists, for example actuary. This is important because this can limit a students’ career choice. Students’ Knowledge of Labor Market. This is the knowledge on the demand of occupation within the job market. Students may or may not have an idea that a certain job is in demand, for example being a librarian, or is saturated within the job market, for example being a nurse.


This chapter includes a comprehensive discussion that covers local and foreign literature and studies that are written by acknowledged authors which will provide information about the possible factors that graduating high school students consider in choosing a college course. All of the information discussed in this section has significant bearing or relation to the problem under investigation. Foreign Literature The result of Trusty’s (2002) study show that course-taking in high school did influence choice of science and math majors; however, this is more visible to women than men.

If we will take Trusty’s (2002) explanation, then Pitre, Johnson, and Pitre’s (2006) statement that “the choice of what college they will attend will be determined by their grades, test scores, and the institutions that choose to admit them” (41) is solidified. Socioeconomic status can also affect a student’s college choice (Lillis and Tian, 2008, 13). According to Lillis and Tian (2008), “This study confirm that lower-income groups are less likely to apply to more expensive institutions, thereby seriously limiting their postsecondary opportunities” (13).

One of the significant factors which can affect students’ college choice at present are parents, siblings, and friends since they are the ones who have continuous dialogue about prospective higher education (Tucciarone, 2007, 34). Tucciarone (2007) emphasized that advertising a college which relate to students’ inner motivations has positive effect on college search and college choice (34). Thus, it is clear based on his study that media can influence a student when choosing a career path. A similar conclusion is also seen in Lee and Chatfield’s (2012) study which looks at the advertising effect of a certain college choice.

Results of their study showed that media such as TV programs, soap operas, and news significantly influenced international students in applying a college course in the United States. Foreign Study High schools can have an impact on students’ career choice in college for they can provide students with ideas on how to choose their college course. As Finlayson (2009) stated in his study, the counselors he interviewed say that the students should be exposed to the different career choices as early as kindergarten. Aside from schools, parents can influence their children on what course to take.

In a study by Engle (2008), he found out that “Parental characteristics are very influential and that a choice made after primary school sets precedence for a students’ entire educational career” (47). This can account for the reason why students become more independent with their decision of their college paths. Studies also recognize the importance of media on students’ career choice. This kind of media influence is discouraged by Borchert (2002) for he believes that individuals need to know themselves and use their self-knowledge when choosing a career.

Like what he said, “Students must know themselves and make their own career decisions based on that self-confidence in their decision-making process” (Bochert, 2002, 70). But Lee (2009) found out that personal variables do not play a role in students’ decision making coping patterns when choosing majors. Mitchell (2006) would argue that choosing a major is determined primarily by a student’s relative expected earnings and neither of the explanations mentioned above. Local Literature Researches show that there are many reasons why Filipino high school students choose a certain college course.

According to Philippine Occupational Interest Survey (POIS) developed by the Center for Educational Measurement, Inc. (2007), there are different influences which can affect a student’s occupational interest. These are socioeconomic data such as family income, sibling status and source of educational financing, educational background of parents, a student’s ambition and motivation, knowledge on different occupations, interest in preparatory courses taken in high school, activities a student likes to do, and some personality traits of the student.

Raymundo-Abulon (2011) would agree to the statements made by the POIS that influences students’ career choice. In her study on why pre-service teachers chose their course, she concluded that there are intrinsic and extrinsic factors that can affect them. Intrinsic motivations include interest in teaching, love of knowledge and passion to teach children. Extrinsic motivations, on the other hand, are composed of pressure from significant others such as family, relatives and teachers, and good opportunities for jobs in the country and abroad.

Datu (2012), in his study of personality factors and paternal parenting style and its relationship to career preference of Filipino college freshmen revealed that gender, neuroticism, and authoritarian paternal parenting style is significantly associated with career preference, and neuroticism and authoritarian paternal parenting style as preditictive determinants of career choice. Datu’s (2012) study further strengthened the notion that personality and parents affect a student in his or her occupational preferences.

However, in Carino-Matthison’s (2010) article, it shows that self-efficacy or other contextual supports and barriers such as parental pressure have less influence on students unlike outcome expectations such as expectation of finding a high-paying job. The dissatisfaction with students’ preferred courses may lead students to feel uncertain when they already take their courses in college (Carino-Matthison, 2010). According to Carino-Matthison (2010), “Information and guidance received before students go to college have an influential factor in career uncertainty” (57).

That is why there are programs for graduating high school students such as career orientation to help them understand the courses or careers they want to take. To help students gain information on what careers are best for them, school guidance counselors often give Career Orientation Week to graduating students (Philippine Occupational Interest Survey, 2007, 35). Activities such as career talks by some resource persons on their careers, “sales” talk by admission directors/officers of certain colleges to students and providing pamphlets to students about career opportunities are done during the event.

This kind of programs should be encouraged because it provides students with knowledge on the career they have chosen (Carino-Matthison 2009). According to the Philippine Commission on Women, “The completion rate of female in the secondary level is higher at 79. 94 percent (80 in every 100 girls) compared with that of male at 70. 44 percent (70 in every 100 boys), with gender disparity at 1. 13 GPI or equivalent to 113 girls in every 100 boys”

Flores (2010) studied the differences between career guidance strategies used by teachers, students, and counselors in public and private high schools. The results of her study states that based on the teachers and students from both public and private schools, “There is a very significant difference in the number of career strategies used”  in both schools, and based on the perception of guidance counselors of both public and private schools, there is no significant difference on the degree of importance of the presented career guidance strategies. Even though school guidance counselors help students in choosing their own course, students still practice a degree of autonomy in deciding what career to choose.

Catherine Espero’s (2009) research about career decisions among children of overseas Filipino workers shows that OFW children are capable of making their own decision in choosing their college course although they still consult their parents’ opinion on their career decisions. Choosing their career is based on their self-knowledge and knowledge of the world of work (Espero 2009). The results of Espero’s (2009) study show that the most common factors considered when choosing a course are their interests, parents’ suggestion, salary or job security, and academic achievement. Those that were disregarded were gender, mental ability and parents’ career preference for their children.

Although in Tan’s (2009) study, gender seems to have an effect on choosing a college course. Even though OFW children are capable of choosing their college course, there is still a factor of family, relative, friend and other external influence such as media and academic ability that can affect the student’s career preferences (Espero, 2009). This has a similar finding with Tan’s (2009) research which explains that academic ability has an influence on college choice attributes for private high school students. Cerera (2010) stated in her study, “College academic performance is significantly related with aptitude and is predicted by the match of interest with chosen course” (i).

Espero (2009) also noted that there are some OFW children who are not satisfied with their career decisions. These were due to their fears and doubts they have regarding their preferred course such as whether their skills or abilities matched the demands of their preferred courses or whether they would eventually learn to appreciate their parents’ preferred courses for them. Most of the researches presented are based on quantitative studies. Virtudazo (2004) made a theoretical research in order to find a middle level theory in career studies. Her study can be considered as encompassing all the explanations regarding the factors which influence career choice.

According to Virtudazo (2004), there are three categories of career components that emerged in her study namely inner self, others to self, and career self. She further elaborated this by explaining that “inner self are components that are related to career-life purpose, others to self are components that are related to the influences of others on the individual’s career, and the career self are consisted of components that are directly related to career processes” (Virtudazo, 2004, V). From Virtudazo’s study, we can conclude that there is an interplay between personality, external factors such as significant others or media, and work outcomes on choosing a career or course in college.

Relevance of Reviewed Literature and Study to the Present Study The literature and studies presented on this paper are a gateway for us to have an idea on what answers to expect and what trends to see when we conduct the study. As mentioned in the articles, there are internal and external factors which can motivate a student to choose a certain course and purse a chosen career. It is because of these studies that gave us a broader knowledge on what concepts and theories to make while doing the research. Aside from giving us ideas on possible research outcomes, these literatures show us the difference between the foreign and local studies.

Although, it is learly seen that there are so much similarities when it comes to the results of the studies on which factors influences a student on his or her occupational preferences. It is the hope of the researchers that the review of related literature and studies provide the readers a bigger view regarding the topic at hand. Chapter 3 Methods and Procedure This chapter involves the strategies and techniques in the study of our research regarding the factors that may affect the decision of graduating high school students in choosing a college course. We have gathered information about the behavior of students towards choosing a college course and the reasons that govern such behavior. Method of Research

The researchers used the descriptive research method, also known as statistical research, wherein we have described data and characteristics about the population being studied. We have conducted this qualitative research with a survey investigation approach. It included a step by step process in which the researchers determined what affects the decisions of graduating high school students in choosing a college course. The case study was also used in this research. This research method was chosen because case studies provide an in-depth analysis of a particular unit, where the particular unit serves as the analytical frame of a certain phenomenon. This study, focused on a single public high school located within Metro Manila.

This school was the analytical frame to study how students choose a particular college course. Although case study does not allow generalization, it provides an idea on how students choose a certain course based on the students from the selected public high school. Respondents of the Study The respondents of this study are graduating high school students from Ramon Magsaysay High School, a public high school located in Sampaloc, Manila.

The school was picked after the researchers went to four different schools (two public high schools and two private high schools) to see which school will allow the researchers to conduct a research. Only Ramon Magsaysay High School gave a positive reply. Graduating high chool students are the main focus of our study and the students from Ramon Magsaysay High School will be more than sufficient to answer the questionnaire that the researchers have prepared, thus supplying the information we need in order to answer the problems posed in the present study.

The sampling technique used in our research methodology is cluster sampling. The researchers have decided to use this method because it is the most convenient sampling method for both the researchers and the respondents. Cluster sampling is a type of probability sampling in which a group of respondents is chosen based on the criteria of the target population.

Most often, these criteria of the target population are already grouped into subpopulation or cluster which has the same characteristics. In the researchers’ case, Ramon Magsaysay High School has 26 sections in 4th year high school. These sections are already considered a subpopulation of 4th year high school students in the school. Ramon Magsaysay High School has approximately 1,300 students. The school principal assigned four sections, with 50 students each, where the survey will be conducted. Those four sections are the clustered sample of our study.

Data Gathering Technique A survey is a method for collecting quantitative information about entries in a population. They are a form of questioning a sample of people derived from a larger population. Surveys provide important information for all kinds of research fields, especially marketing research. Our survey focused on the preferences or behavior of students toward the decision of choosing a college course. The researchers have decided to use questionnaires for their survey in the data gathering technique segment. We have settled on using the survey as a data gathering technique because it is easy to analyze, time efficient, and inexpensive.

The researchers have thoroughly discussed the sample size of the school that is to be given a questionnaire in the sampling technique section of this chapter. A total of 133 questionnaires were given out to 4th year high school students of Ramon Magsaysay High School. Validation of the Instrument To test the validity of the instruments, the researchers have presented the questionnaire to our research adviser, Dr. Bella Marie Fabian, and to our Dean, Dr. Ma. Flordeliza L. Anastacio, for comments and suggestions. The researchers also carried out the pre-test to appraise the questionnaire’s soundness of the items and to estimate the time required to answer the items.

The pre-test involved 5 students of our leader’s alma mater not covered in the sample population. Statistical Treatment of Data The following statistical procedures were used to attain an in-depth analysis of data:

  • Percentage. This was used in order to compute for the number of students in each of the four schools to be given a questionnaire.
  • Frequency. This was used to determine the frequency of occurrence of possible factors that apply to each student that responded to the questionnaire.
  • Ranking. The ranking was used to classify and arrange the factor that most affected the student in choosing a college course.

Presentation, Analysis, and Interpretation of Data

This chapter presents the data gathered in the study and interpretation of the results from the conducted survey via questionnaire. It also presents the researchers’ analysis of each result. Out of the 133 questionnaires given, only 129 students answered it completely. Thus, the turn out rate of the survey is 96. 99%.

Next to those factors are their parents. The third factor that influences a student is his or her relatives or siblings, and teachers. Religious advisers influence a student least. According to the Philippines Occupational Survey, guidance councilors arrange a Career Orientation Week for graduating high school students. We believe that this must be the cause that made guidance councilors on top of the list.

The least significant factor in choosing a college course is the availability of scholarships. The data gathered here is in agreement with Lillis and Tian’s study (2008) about socioeconomic status. This study states that, “Lower-income groups are less likely to apply to more expensive institutions, thereby seriously limiting their postsecondary opportunities. ”

Summary of Findings

The following section includes a discussion of the major findings of the study organized according to each research question. Conclusions and recommendations are also discussed. Summary of Findings This chapter presents the summary of findings, conclusions drawn from the findings, and the corresponding recommendations. This study was taken with the general objective of determining the factors that affected the decisions of graduating high school students in Ramon Magsaysay High School in choosing a college course. The answers to the questions posed on the questionnaire are as follows:

  • Majority of the respondents are female.
  • Araling Panlipunan was the favorite subject of most of the respondents.
  • A great part of the respondents chose Hotel and Restaurant Management as their choice of course.
  • The most popular choice of school was San Beda College, but most respondents answered “other” in the questionnaire.
  • Most of the respondents’ parents have graduated college.
  • A good number of the respondents parents are privately employed.
  • More than half of the respondents’ parents had a monthly income 15,000-30,000.
  • High school councilors and friends influence a graduating high school student most in choosing a college course.
  • Tuition costs are the most significant factor that affects the decision of a senior high school student in Ramon Magsaysay High School.


The study aimed to know the factors affecting a student’s career choice. Using Parson’s Trait and Factor Theory of Occupational Choice and modifying the students’ trait concept to personal, economic, social and school settings as factors in choosing a course, the researchers found which factors influence a student most in choosing a career and what a student considers as the most important factor that can affect their college course. The interplay or the “objective and rational judgment of the student” between the influence and the factors that students consider dictate the course they are going to take in college.

In order to test this concept, the researchers conducted a case study using the survey method in Ramon Magsaysay High School. Based on the results, it showed that the most influential and source of information are the high school counselors and friends while the teachers are the least. Regarding what students see as the most important factor in choosing a college course, most students answer tuition fee and the least is availability of scholarships.

The first one is that parents are not the most influential persons in choosing a college course; and the second is that school settings are not relevant in the decision of a graduating high school student in choosing a course. Our third hypothesis was rejected since, economic factors are the most significant factor that affects the respondents’ choice of a college course.


The following recommendations are offered based on the findings and conclusions of the study:

  • The researchers recommend that the schools or universities provide an extensive career orientation to graduating high school students.
  • We suggest that the government or an economic sector in the Philippines give a report to secondary education institutions about the list of in-demand jobs so schools can encourage students in choosing a course where they can have a job right after graduation. We believe that this is significant for students in public high schools since these are the type of students that are financially challenged and are most likely to work right away after graduation.
  • One of the limitations of this study is that it is a case study. The results are only applicable on Ramon Magsaysay High School. The researchers encourage scholars and educators to study the topic further to obtain data that can be generalized to public high schools in the country.
  • Ramon Magsaysay High School is a public high school. The researchers suggest that private schools be studied as well to see the differences and similarities of students from different socioeconomic classes in choosing a particular career or college course.

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Factors Affecting the Decision of Graduating High School Students in Choosing a College Course. (2016, Nov 08). Retrieved from


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