Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

Committee Member

Dr. Darren Linvill, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Kristen Okamoto

Committee Member

Dr. Stephanie Pangborn

Committee Member

Dr. Andrew Pyle


For more than 974,000 international students, the United States is the destination of choice to pursue higher education. Although Chinese students account for almost one in three international students in the U.S., there are many unknowns about the influential factors behind their college decision. This phenomenological study explores the self-described most important factors for Chinese students' decision to attend college in the United States and the sources they seek to make their decision. Through interviews with students originally from China who attained their undergraduate degree from a U.S. university, my goal was to understand how individuals arrive at his/her alma mater and articulate their decision-making process for attending that school. The current study found (1) parents are the most influential factor in the decision to attend college in the U.S., (2) students place great importance on U.S. News and World Report rankings, and (3) in hindsight, students wish they focused less on rankings and did not need help from agencies when applying to colleges.