Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Bryan McCoy

Abstract

With decreasing state funds, a sluggish economy, and increased competition, universities are finding new ways to recruit prospective students to their institutions (Campbell, 2013; Sandlin & Pena, 2014). One way to create relationships and recruit prospective students to a university is through the use of social media platforms (Han, 2014; Joly, 2016). The purpose of this study, using the theoretical framework of Perna's (2006) Conceptual College Choice model, was to understand how social media impacted student college choice process by analyzing how universities used social media sites to market their universities to prospective students using the qualitative method of content analysis. Sixteen universities, based on the size and setting classification of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (n.d.), were chosen. Their official social media accounts were analyzed during a seven-day period in the month of October of 2016. The results found all universities were active on at least Facebook and Twitter; however, prospective students were using Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube more frequently, thus a majority of the universities studied were missing the opportunity to connect on the students' social media platforms of choice, which could impact enrollment numbers. The use of popular hashtags and the type of content posted to the university's social media sites also impacted the number of likes, shares, and comments made by prospective students. The limitation of the study included the use of a stratified purposeful sample and the difficulty of determining profile statuses.

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