Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Member

Michelle Boettcher

Committee Member

Tony Cawthon

Committee Member

Kris Frady

Committee Member

Robin DiPietro


This study examined the following research question: What factors influence student college selection process? The study sought to fill an existing gap in the literature by examining what role technology and other relevant factors have on students’ decision-making as related to college choice. By identifying influencers of college choice, the study’s findings can add to the body of knowledge that admission counselors might use as they develop an appropriate recruiting mix of strategies best suited for today’s college applicants


As the theoretical framework, this research drew on the previous work of Hamrick & Hossler (1996) which combined constructs of both economic and sociologic perspectives with college choice. Additionally, an adaptation of the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model (Venkatesh, Morris, & Davis, 2003) was created with key constructs such as Performance Expectancy, Effort Expectancy, Social Influence, and Facilitating Conditions. In addition, the adapted model incorporated two sets of moderators (University Attributes and Individual Attributes) that were hypothesized to influence university or college choice. Socio-demographic information was also collected to better understand how students are being recruited and what methods they perceive as most effective.

A convenience sample of students from the freshman class at a major research university in the Southeast were surveyed.

Approximately 750 students were selected to receive the main survey, selected with the help of university advisement personnel and university faculty in identifying possible classes to participate. The survey was distributed by e-mail. Over the course of a two-month period, 427 students responded, with 341 surveys completed. Usable surveys were analyzed using the SPSS 25 statistical package.

From the data analyzed via multiple regression, Performance Expectancy and Facilitating Conditions were found to be statistically significant whereas Effort Expectancy and Social Influence were found to be insignificant. Individual Attributes as a moderating factor within the model was found to be insignificant. University attributes as a moderating factor within the model was found to be partially confirmed, as only the relationship between social influence (SI) and school of choice behavior (B) was significant, whereas the other hypothesized paths were insignificant. Socio-demographic information from the survey suggested that students were being recruited via email most often, with mail and brochure usage also noted. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook were found to be highly used by students but were not effective recruiting tools.

The results suggest that performance expectancy and facilitating conditions such as classrooms, athletic facilities, and academic reputation have a significant and positive relationship with behavior (school choice). Conversely, effort expectancy and social influence did not have a significant direct relationship with school of choice behavior. As technology continues to evolve and become a more pervasive influence on students, colleges need to explore if social media might be a useful recruitment tool. The data from this study adds to the body of literature on economic and status-based factors related to school of choice by including the role of technology.



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