An exploration of perceived usefulness of admissions advisors, guidance counselors, family, friends, websites, campus tours, and print publications during the search and choice phases of the college selection process
Smith, Steven Patrick
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The recent growth of the internet has altered the way people obtain information on various topics. This dissertation sought to better understand how high school students from varying backgrounds perceive the usefulness of this new form of information gathering relative to other college search resources throughout the college selection process. The literature review presents many classical models of the college selection process followed by an analysis of literature on college search resources, the Millennial Generation, and the growth of the internet as a college search resource. To better understand how the college selection process may be changing, I created and administered a survey to approximately 1700 Western New York high school students. The data analysis included MANCOVA tests to determine how students' perceptions of different college search resources varied according to their racial background, parents' educational backgrounds, academic ability, academic aspiration, and geographic focus of their college searches. The data from this study revealed that academic ability, academic aspiration, and parental education had no effect on how students rated the usefulness of any college selection resources during the search and choice phases of the college selection process. Small differences did exist in how students' racial background and geographic focus of their college searches affected their usefulness ratings of the college search resources. However, further analysis revealed that these differences accounted for small amounts of the total variation of students' ratings. Additional t-tests were run to determine, regardless of the between-subjects factors, which college search resources were perceived to be the most helpful. During the search stage, students rated college/university websites as most useful. During the choice phase, students perceived campus tours to be the most useful search resource. Results indicate that the web may be playing a greater role in the student college compared to the findings of previous studies.