Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD; Fred J. Galloway, EdD; Rose Linda Martínez, EdD


Corozal (Puerto Rico), demographic factors, high school seniors, higher education, minority & ethnic groups, motivational forces, private schools, public schools, qualitative, universities


A university education has become a ticket out of poverty for persons living in highly competitive labor markets. Consequently, access to higher education and the factors that motivate university enrollment have long been studied. However, prior to this study, no noteworthy studies with a focus on high school students and their perceptions about higher education had been conducted in Puerto Rico. This lack of research is surprising because Puerto Rico has one of the world's most competitive job markets where a university degree can mean the difference between dependence on welfare and governmental assistance and a life of self-sufficiency and relative affluence. This study explored the characteristics and motivational forces that drive high school seniors in the three schools of one of Puerto Rico's central towns, Corozal, to either continue or end their formal education after high school. The study employed demographic and personal information data, in addition to responses to questions from a survey instrument administered to all enrolled high school seniors in the town's two public and one private high school. These data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression techniques, and, in the case of open-ended responses, qualitative content analysis. Logistic regression analysis determined that the significant indicators of university attendance among Corozal's high school seniors are grade point average, residence type, maternal education level, private high school attendance, self-reported artistic talent and family size. Among the articulated reasons for not pursuing tertiary studies, respondents listed motivational factors such as needing a break from school, practical considerations such as the need to work to support their child or other family members, and low perceived returns on the time and effort required to get a college degree.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access