National Merit Scholars Survey

The Institute for Social and Behavioral Sciences (ISBS) was contracted by UCF’s Office of Marketing, Communications and Admissions to conduct a survey with National Merit Scholars finalists that had been offered admission to UCF to determine what influenced their decisions to choose the university that they selected.

The survey was conducted both online and by telephone. We found that most students first began thinking about which college or university to attend during the junior year, but with sizable fractions at least beginning this process before they were even in high school.

Only about one in twenty postponed the process until the senior year. We also found that the campus visit is the most important source of information in making a final decision about where to go to college. College and university websites are second. Among Merit Scholars choosing to attend UCF, UCF was rated as strong as, or stronger than, their first and second choice schools in all relevant comparisons, with the absolute majority stating that UCF was stronger in faculty interaction, the campus, the campus visit and the Honors College. The majority of nonattendees, in contrast, felt that UCF was not as strong as their first and second choice schools in academic quality, academic facilities in their program of study, the campus and the Honor’s College, although in the remaining areas of comparison (interaction with faculty and the campus visit), the majority thought UCF was as strong or stronger.

Finally, UCF attendees were asked, “Which elements of the scholarship offer from UCF did you find most attractive?” Seven possible factors were presented. The most important “attractor,” by far, was the scholarship award amount. Guaranteed acceptance to the Honors Program, guaranteed housing, and the UCF internship and undergraduate research programs were also relatively strong pulls.