In this study we propose using path analysis and residual plotting as methods supporting environmental scanning in strategic planning for higher education institutions. As an illustration, path models of three levels of independent variables, that is, socioeconomic background, current economic variables, and educational variables, are developed. The dependent variables measuring applications and enrollments at a research university, Virginia Tech, and enrollments at four-year institutions in Virginia are regressed on the independent variables. The residuals from the multiple regression models are plotted on the county maps of Virginia to identify the geographic regions in which the applications and enrollments at Virginia Tech and the enrollments in colleges and universities of Virginia are higher or lower than expected according to the models. The implications of the variables in the models and the geographic distributions of residuals for strategic planning decisions are discussed.
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