Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version



Burdett, K. R. (2013). How students choose a college: Understanding the role of internet based resources in the college choice process. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2013).


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor James V. Griesen. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Kimberli R. Burdett


The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of how current internet-based resources are affecting the college choice process. An explanatory mixed methods design was used, and the study involved collecting qualitative data after a quantitative phase to explain the quantitative data in greater depth. An additional study was completed two years later, which allowed for additional comparison between the two studies. Data were collected via surveys of students at the University of California, Irvine to identify the types of internet-based resources being used by students to investigate colleges and the impact of each on college choice. Frequency, t-test, and ANOVA tests revealed students used college search websites less in 2011 than in 2009 and use social media website more in 2011 than in 2009.

The second, qualitative phase of the study was conducted with students selected because of their answers in the quantitative phase. In this explanatory follow-up, the qualitative data was sought to explain the quantitative data by providing additional detail about the student experience of choosing a college. The qualitative research showed students find strongest influence in their college choice through traditional resources and external factors rather than internet resources.

The results of both the quantitative and qualitative phase were integrated and interpreted to complete the findings. Implications and future research possibilities are presented.

Advisor: James V. Griesen