For most prospective college students, selecting a college is a highly involved, lengthy process. While past research has examined how high school students determine their college choice subsets and what information sources they use most during the college selection process, further research is needed to determine the most effective means of reaching prospective students. The current study employs focus group research to examine students' college selection processes to gain a better understanding of the types of information students seek during their college selection process, the media they use to find it, and the people whose guidance they seek when making their decisions.

Determining which institution of higher education high school students will attend is a serious decision. It is a process that many students are deeply involved in. Some begin thinking about it early in high school while others wait until application deadlines approach. But, no matter when students embark on the process of finding a college or university to attend, it is a process that involves a number of different research resources for students to use and a process that students can approach from different angles.

Part of the college decision process involves determining an initial set of institutions, careers, and academic majors to consider. Progressively, students narrow their options to a few select schools to which they will apply. The final stage in this process, after all research is complete, is to choose one school to attend upon admittance. Throughout this process students must sort through all sorts of institutional information. They receive this information in the mail, via television commercials, from their friends, parents, and/or guidance counselors, or on the Internet. The information ranges from academic majors offered to the best clubs to join.

Previous research (Bradshaw, Espinoza, & Hausman, 2001; Hossler, Braxton, & Coopersmith, 1989; Zemsky & Oedel, 1983;Hodges & Barbuto, 2001; Rosen, Curran, & Greenlee, 1998) has sought to understand prospective college students' college selection processes, from determining the initial choice subsets they will examine, to the criteria they use to judge colleges, to how they make their final decisions. The present study adds to this body of knowledge, most specifically to our understanding about the means by which students seek and receive information about colleges during their selection COLLEGE SELECTION 7 process. It also adds to the literature about what resources, both people and media, high school students find to be most influential throughout their college selection process.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

College choice--Case studies; High school students--Attitudes

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Communication and Media Technologies (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Department of Communication (CLA)


Bruce Austin

Advisor/Committee Member

Rudy Pugliese

Advisor/Committee Member

Patricia Sorce


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at LB2350.5 .S73 2005


RIT – Main Campus