Date Awarded

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Pamela L. Eddy

Committee Member

Virginia Carey

Committee Member

Monica D Griffin


College choice, the decision-making process for students of whether and where to attend college, is complex. The college choice process also affects a range of stakeholders: high school students, parents, public policymakers, high schools, admission professionals, and institutions of higher education. Understanding the influences of college choice for prospective students allows colleges and universities to examine best practices in admission and enrollment management. Even though the campus visit has a significant affect on a student’s decision for application and enrollment, what remains unknown is how the construct of the campus visit is perceived among students and how students’ perceptions of the visit influence their college choice decisions. Previous research demonstrates the importance of the campus visit or tour, yet this research neglects to discover what elements of a visit or tour are the most influential, and whether or not these factors are under a university’s control. This study explored the campus visit from three different qualitative perspectives: interviewing recently matriculated college freshmen, assessing campus information sessions and tours, and surveying high school seniors during the college choice process to better understand the phenomenon of college choice and the impact of the campus visit. From the findings emerged themes of the campus visit impression: aesthetics of the campus environment, community/general vibe of campus, and personal interactions. Students want a college that “looks like a college” and is a place where students are generally happy and proud of their alma mater. This research found that the factors that most heavily influence different variations of the campus visit are mostly due to chance; the weather, tour guide, bulletin board postings, and even construction on campus can affect a student’s interpretation of a campus community. These findings further justify the importance of understanding the relationship between the campus visit and college choice during a student’s developmental phase. Given the importance of recruiting and maintaining students who are a good “fit,” institutions and administrators should examine best practices for presenting an authentic campus community.




© The Author

Included in

Education Commons