National Merit Finalist, NMF, National Merit Scholar, NMS, attrition, retention, National Merit Scholarship Corporation, NMSC, gifted, Honors College, PSAT, ACT, SAT, Selection Index, Recruitment
The purpose of this study was to examine the trends, attrition and retention rates of National Merit Finalists at the University of Central Florida between the years of 1997 to 2005. This study was intended to provide information for higher education practitioners, faculty, and administrators to help them better understand the expectations and current trends of National Merit Finalists. The problem was to determine how to increase recruitment and retention while decreasing the attrition rates of these highly desirable students. The importance of this study includes identifying trends that may aid in future recruitment efforts for National Merit Finalists; finding the causes of dissatisfaction towards the University among these students; and identifying specific areas in which to alleviate those dissatisfactions. The results will hopefully provide insight into specific recruitment, services, and programming options for these students. The study examined data that was collected from the University of Central Florida's Burnett Honors College database known as FileMaker 8.0. The data examined characteristics such as grade point averages (high school and college); valedictorian and salutatorian status; test scores (SAT and ACT); Honors in the Major (undergraduate thesis) students; Honors and university status (withdrawn, probation, removed, disqualified, enrolled, graduated); Honors college attrition; university attrition; ethnicity; gender ratios; majors; and, prestigious scholarships awarded in college (such as the Rhodes, Truman, Marshall). The actual size of the sample was one hundred ninety-eight National Merit Finalists. Data was also collected from a survey given to all University of Central Florida National Merit Finalists. Descriptive statistics were reported for each of the components examined. This data examined the types of scholarship packages that National Merit Finalists were offered; the reasons students chose the University of Central Florida over other universities; the college recruitment process; hours studied for the PSAT; siblings; perceptions on being a National Merit Finalist; the number of times students changed their majors; job status; transportation; computer attainment; disabilities; and the potential disadvantages of being labeled as a National Merit Finalist. The data could be utilized to examine the trends of our National Merit Finalists, in order to see what is working and what is not in terms or recruitment and retention; and also to further examine what these students want from their institutions. Findings indicated that problems exist in regard to the following: the recruitment of female and minority National Merit Finalists; males historically score higher on the SAT than females; decreasing the attrition rates of this population at the University of Central Florida; the majority of National Merit Finalists at the University of Central Florida come from Florida; the majority of National Merit Finalists at the University of Central Florida do not tend to be high school salutatorians or valedictorians; high school counselors seem to be the least effective tool for recruiting National Merit Finalists at the University of Central Florida; and the majority of National Merit Finalists at the University of Central Florida did not study at all for the PSAT test. However, the University of Central Florida is extremely competitive with other institutions of higher education with regard to scholarship packages. Results also revealed the following: the SAT is a more widely accepted tool for determining NMSC status as opposed to the ACT; the majority of National Merit Finalists have a GPA between 3.600 and 3.999 at the University of Central Florida; the University of Central Florida is succeeding in making its National Merit Finalists feel special during the recruitment process; the most influential reason that National Merit Finalists are choosing UCF is based upon the financial scholarship packages they are offered; and the majority of National Merit Finalists at the University of Central Florida do not feel that there are disadvantages toward being labeled as such. This data provides a basis for further research on National Merit Finalists trends, attrition, and retention. Practical considerations are revealed in the data that will influence future recruitment methods and lead to higher retention rates and increased student satisfaction. Several other recommendations are made to conduct further research studies on the trends, attrition, and retention rates of National Merit Finalists.
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Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
College of Education
Educational Research, Technology and Leadership
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Norburn, Jill, "National Merit Finalists At The University Of Central Florida-trends, Attrition, And Retention 1997-2005" (2006). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 811.