Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Dale Andersen

Second Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Number of Pages



Napoleon Bonaparte coined the maxim; "The future destiny of the child is always the work of the parent" (Evans, 1971, p. 18). A parent plays a key part in the development and progression of a child. Consequently, children often adopt parental perceptions of the world around them. The college choice phenomenon is no exception; parents perform a critical role. The purpose of this study was to examine the role parents played in the college choice phenomenon. The study employed a qualitative research approach with a quantitative component to explore parental perceptions and the interrelated roles of parents, students, high school counselors, and admissions representatives; The total population of high school junior students in the Camino River Union High School District was surveyed to obtain supporting information regarding parental influence and involvement and the perception between college characteristics. Using the total population counselors identified a maximum variation sample of ten college-bound students and their parents. This sample, along with two counselors and six admissions representatives from the top feeder higher education institutions for the participating school district completed the phenomenological portion of this work. New survey instruments were developed for the purpose of this research. Descriptive statistics and phenomenological analysis indicated current parental roles and the relationships between college choice sets and participants; Findings reported parents perceived more influence over their students college choice processes than their students designated. Yet, parents felt they were not as involved in college choice as their students indicated. Phenomenological interviews revealed students perceived added influence and involvement from parents who secured some degree of higher education. Parents who possessed little exposure to higher education limited their involvement in college choice, but not their general influence for college; In this study, parents winnowed important characteristics of college choice down to five factors: location, area of interest, campus safety, campus size, campus environment, and college costs. Students, counselors, and representatives report similar choice set patterns. Across participant groups, college websites were the most valuable contemporary source of information; The research presents an exhaustive phenomenological essence statement, along with a point-in-time parent model of the college choice phenomenon. Implications for higher education, high school counselors, and parents are discussed.


Admissions; Choice; College; College Choice; Exploration; Parental; Perceptions; Phenomenon; Parental; School Counselors

Controlled Subject

Education, Higher; Social psychology

File Format


File Size

6440.96 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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