College choice and the university brand: exploring the consumer decision framework

Amber L. Stephenson, Alex Heckert, David B. Yerger
  • Higher Education, July 2015, Springer Science + Business Media
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10734-015-9919-1

College choice: Exploring the consumer decision framework

What is it about?

We investigated the college selection process of incoming first time first year students using the consumer decision framework. We found that students had between one and eight schools in their consideration sets and those schools varied by type of institution, size, and location. Other constructs like availability of major, college visits, price, and the perception of relevant others played a role in the college decision process.

Why is it important?

The results in this study that focused on consideration set examined size, structure, and decision mediators. The results showed that there were, on average, three schools in the consideration set.This suggests that the school in question had two clear competitor universities to which it was being compared. The goal, from a recruitment standpoint, moves from competing against a wider market of institutions to having to differentiate from only two other universities. The results also noted that schools in the consideration set were a mix of public and private institutions. This suggests that those competitor institutions may not be from the same category of school. Additionally, family and friends emerged as powerful decision mediators. As such, it would benefit the university to recognize that current students could play the role of brand ambassador.

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