Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Vicki Rosser, Chair

Second Committee Member

Gerald Kops

Third Committee Member

Elizabeth Baldizan

Graduate Faculty Representative

Gwen Marchand

Number of Pages



College choice is an important process on the way to college matriculation. Understanding the motivators and influences of college choice can help an institution establish more effective methods of influencing the choice decision. This influence is even more significant among populations that are low in supply and high in demand, such as high-achieving students. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore high-achieving student perceptions of the areas that may influence their college choice. In-depth focus groups and interviews were conducted with high-achieving students at a single institution in the Southwestern United States to establish perceptions of influences of college choice. In order to see the process from the perspective of the institution, interviews were conducted with admissions staff and the researcher conducted a document analysis of the institutional viewbook.

Though focused on the experiences of high-achieving students, the findings of this study were consistent with previous literature in regard to the areas that influence college choice. Participants identified cost, institutional characteristics, institutional communication, institutional fit, and family as areas that influence their choice decision. The representatives of the institution explained their intent to pursue target marketing to outreach to high-achieving students, putting some emphasis on parallel outreach to parents. Within the context of the sample, high-achieving students not only made a decision on their top choice school, but then continued to reevaluate that decision before making their final choice decision, lending to the possibility of modifying existing college choice models. The final chapter discusses the implications of these findings for theory, practice and future research.


Choice; College; College choice; College students – Recruiting; Gifted teenagers; High-achieving; Influences; Recruitment; Students


Higher Education Administration | Higher Education and Teaching

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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