Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree Master of Arts, Major: Journalism and Mass Communications, Under the Supervision of Professor Stacy James. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Laura Jane Sweet


Young adults entering their first year of academic study beyond high school face seemingly limitless opportunities. For the first time, they’re on their own: deciding everything from when to eat to where to study and what to do in their free time. Campuses are rich with possibilities. From official student organizations and clubs, to impromptu pizza parties and dorm floor trivia contests, daily decisions create the experiences that shape the life to come. On many large campuses, alongside academic buildings are art galleries and performance spaces. Research shows that early exposures to the arts lead to increased engagement during student time on campus, and most important, beyond their degree-seeking years. Students at major universities are easily able to opt in for arts experiences without leaving their primary geography. For students on smaller campuses, however, this is often not the case. An undeniable barrier to critical early college career performing arts experiences in the city itself is the distance of travel to the venue. Between coordinating transportation, parking, and the associated costs—many find it easier to opt instead for a campus movie or night in front of the television. This research examines the barriers to attending performing arts events for first year college students, and methods for communicating benefits and incentives to this critical target audience.

Adviser: Stacy James