Criteria For Selecting Undergraduate College

Goals

An understanding of the decision criteria that prospective students use for selecting public and private higher education institutions

Early Findings

One study determined that students select universities based on seven key decision segments;
affordability, availability of a desired program, reputation/academic quality, career outcomes/job opportunities, value of education for cost, feeling of fit, and proximity to home.

At least one of those 7 decision factors was cited by 80% of students.
The study also found that 24% of students who selected in-state public institutions did so because of affordability.
Students most often chose private institutions due to reputation and academic quality.
Another study found similar factors, with academic quality, desired program of stud, job placement, cost of attendance, and a good social life topping the list.

This study found that being far from home and family legacy status were the lowest ranked factors (12% and 9% respectively).

It is also noted that students are more likely to be drawn to a universities marketing, as tech connected students see colleges as just another brand in their digital landscape, and expect a great digital experience and interaction on social media.
The Atlantic noted that US students were unique in selecting private universities for prestige, as in most other countries, private schools are less prestigious than key public universities.

In terms of the demographics of students that selected private vs. public, public universities tended to attract a more diverse group because of their broader subject offerings, whereas private universities had a more geographically diverse enrollment because pricing didn’t vary based on in-state or out-of-state fees.

Students who value social events tended to choose public universities, which were larger and had more extracurricular offerings and social happenings.

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