Motivation for choice of program of study among undergraduate students joining Makerere University
Tayebwa, James Bamwenda
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The choice of the program of study for higher education has been paramount in a student’s contemporary education career. In Uganda, students pursue programs of study where they lacked background knowledge of their career opportunities. Most students enrol in certain university programs of study but later regret or withdraw from such programs due to lack of interest. Drawing from interviews and discussions held with students and staff at Makerere University, this study sought to establish the exact reasons behind the student’s choice of programs of study, the study sought to; explore how intrinsic and extrinsic factors motivate students’ choice of the program of study, and to explore how non-motivational but influential factors affect student’s choice programs of study for higher institutions of learning. The study employed a survey design that was cross-sectional; the study used qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis. Self-administered questionnaires, key informant interviews and focus group discussions were used for data collection. A total of 201 students randomly selected filled out a self-administered questionnaire. Ten (10) focus group discussions comprising of 7 respondents in each were drawn from the 10 Colleges, 5 key informant interviews with 3 admissions and career guidance officers from Makerere University; and two secondary schools head-teachers. Filled out questionnaires were retrieved from the students, cross-checked for completeness, and an entry screen was designed for data entry. Data were then exported into the SPSS for analysis. The study discovered that general motivations for the choice of the program of study for higher education were based on attitudes and perceptions towards professional programs, newer programs and traditional programs of study such as engineering, law, and medicine. The cost of programs, the influence of family, the possibility of scholarships, and the program’s capacity to help one get a job or get a promotion were mentioned as key factors that influence the choice. Results further show that 58.5% of the respondents were motivated by prospects of advancing career growth and getting a related job after completing the university while 24.5% and 28% of the respondents were motivated by parents and their siblings respectively. Meanwhile, 53% of the respondents were motivated by prospects of scholarships, while 67% made their choices basing on the family’s financial position and ability to afford the fees for the programs of study. Based on the results of the study, students’ motivation for the choice of the program of study is a function of myriad factors. The study recommends therefore that; a clear framework for career guidance must be established, information about existing programs and their course content, and the qualifications requirements should be availed to support students during the process of choice of the program of study. This will enable students to make choices that are informed, fulfilling and rewarding in future.