Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-12-2018

Document Type



Willis, C. M. (2018). Why Nebraska? An Analysis of UNL's International Student Recruitment Touchpoints and Messages as Compared to Student Outcomes (Unpublished undergraduate thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Carolyn Willis 2018


With decreasing budgets and increasing political tensions, universities in the United States are embracing broader and more creative efforts to reach prospective international students. For such universities, international students are a lucrative recruitment population because they bolster enrollment numbers and tuition revenue while diversifying student bodies. Previous studies have shown that much university marketing to international students is deficient and of little use in helping prospective students make informed decisions (Baldwin & James, 2000), yet information search is a key element of buyer decision models (Beatty & Smith, 1987) as students evaluate educational options. This study sought to see, then, which advertising methods were most effective toward undergraduate international students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Furthermore, this study sought to see which decision-making factors were most influential in the college decision process. Expectations of UNL’s Office of Admissions are also considered.

Results show that safety, quality of chosen major at UNL, a welcoming environment for international students, availability of scholarships, and overall academic and teaching quality were the most influential factors in international students’ decisions to attend UNL. The majority of international students initially heard of UNL through rankings, however, the UNL website and other UNL-sponsored web materials most effectively communicated the benefits of attending UNL as related to the presented decision-making factors.