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Senior examines factors in student college selection

| Denise Olson

What is sociology anyway? In the broadest of terms, it's the study of society, sometimes social problems in particular. It's a field that's about as interdisciplinary as they come, and for this reason, Blugolds in many different majors find a research topic that falls into sociological study. This is one of the things that makes the program itself so interesting — the doors can open in so many directions.

For instance, take 2016 English graduate Kelley Binning, who was very interested in factors that determine collegiate choices. She and her research partner, Allie Hable, began to examine the process of high school students college selection, and what made them select the school they did. Their search put a lot of focus onto parental involvement. How did the students feel about their parent’s thoughts and ideas? How much of the college decision process derived from parental suggestions?

“My parents raised me on the assumption that I was, no doubt, going to college, so they were very involved in helping me navigate the college application process," Binning explained about her hypothesis. "Part of me was very curious to see if other students at UW-Eau Claire felt similarly to me about their decision to attend college here.”

As an English literature major, this project gave Kelly the opportunity to further develop her writing skills. Accustomed to writing more creative and descriptive work in MLA format, she had to do a complete one-eighty and learn how to construct her sentences so they focused directly on the research.

“Writing a literature review for a study in ASA was quite a bit different for me. I learned how to better and more quickly get to the point in my writing, and I also learned more about ASA format,” she explained.

While there were a few roadblocks in the process for Binning and Hable's research, that did not deter Kelly from completing the study thoroughly and accurately. One major obstacle was in gathering enough previous studies or related credible articles. She was able to consult her supervising professor, Dr. Kathleen Nybroten throughout the entire process. Also, because of this research project, the University of Iowa offered Kelly a graduate research assistantship, which she graciously accepted.

“Dr. Nybroten is the best. She really cared about the success of this project, and she provided helpful feedback on my writing. Working with Dr. Nybroten to find relevant articles compile research, and analyze it together has, no doubt, helped me feel more comfortable about the research I will be doing in Iowa beginning in the fall.”