Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Hu, Xiaodan

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


Over 219,000 students enroll in Washington State’s 34 community and technical colleges annually. The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) also reports that of these students, 88,000, or 40%, are in career training programs. The need to examine these career training students’ decision-making behaviors is vital, given the $20.5 billion annual contribution these students make to the state economy. This study examines the factors that impact students’ selection of a high or low wage-earning program of study, determines the extent to which the impact varies for historically underserved student populations, and delineates which sociodemographic variables influence student choice behaviors. Ordinal logistic regression was used to analyze three years of sociodemographic and program wage-level data from over 30,000 first-time enrolled students across the five technical colleges in Washington State. A more precise understanding of the relationships between various sociodemographic factors and student program selection informs and shapes practice in community and technical colleges statewide to better inform students, influence choice behavior, and improve student labor market outcomes.


81 pages




Northern Illinois University

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