Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


School of Business


The purpose of this study was to explore the college decision-making process of high school juniors and seniors. In previous studies, researchers asserted that participants undergo a sequential multi-staged process to determine their college of choice. This study moved away from a standard methodological approach, framing the college decision-making process as complex, multifaceted, and deeply personal. Data for participants were presented in thematic form, showcasing an ever-changing college choice process. Participants began with a dream school and fallback school in mind, which helped to guide their initial search efforts. However, these schools were not static, and various factors (economic, sociological, and psychological) had more or less relevance to individuals as they progressed through the process. In predisposition, economic and sociological factors held particular significance as participants made their initial decisions. In the later stages of search and choice, these gave way to psychological factors, which became prominent in participants’ final choices as they visualized their future college lives. Three profiles of the college choice process illustrate participants’ lived experience. Overall, the study provides a more comprehensive understanding of the college decision-making process, with a focus on helping institutions reach prospective students through the admission procedure. This research could be useful in designing university marketing campaigns, enhancing university branding initiatives, or improving recruiting practices, moving particular institutions into students’ college choice set. University personnel could utilize some of the lived experiences found here to create personal connections with prospective students through the use of authentic, direct, and visually oriented marketing materials.

Included in

Business Commons