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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

International Students' Use of Social Network Sites for College Choice Activities and Decision Making
by Rekhter, Natalia, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2017, 189; 10283958
Abstract (Summary)

What are the effective ways to attract international students to your campus? One approach is to learn how foreign students obtain information that impacts their college choice decision. This need determined the goal of this study to explore the Social Network Site (SNS) component of a foreign student’s college decision-making process. This qualitative study was conducted among undergraduate students from Russia State University for Humanities (RSUH). Participant selection was made through a questionnaire aimed to identify students who were in different stages of making a decision regarding transferring to a HEI abroad. The data analysis procedure was informed by the work of Creswell (2002) and Glaser and Strauss (1967).

Participants reported that language (Russian) and convenience were among the highest motivating factors for membership in specific SNS. The benefits of SNS included opportunities for instantaneous connections with individuals of similar interests; unbiased and multidimensional views presented by SNS members. Respondents searched SNSs for information about majors, culture norms abroad, the cost of education, and careers after graduation. They were applying SNS-specific criteria, such as the number of SNS’ “likes”, followers, and the ratio of followers to following, to evaluate HEIs’ worthiness. One of the emerging study findings was that participants with no connections abroad relied exclusively on SNSs for their college choice decisions. These individuals acknowledged that without SNSs they would not consider an opportunity to transfer to an HEI abroad, as they had no channels for obtaining such information. For participants with connections abroad, the advice of their international contacts played a major role in their college choice and SNSs played a supportive role.

Limitations related to the use of SNS included a dearth of current research, minimal control over content posted by third parties, time constraints related to mastering SNS features and maintaining a meaningful content. Recommendations for overcoming these obstacles and strengthening HEI professionals’ connections with international students include developing fluency and expertise in different features of various SNSs or hiring individuals with proven expertise in SNS; creating consistent and meaningful content on various SNS platforms and conducting more research about the use of SNS by international students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hossler, Donald
Commitee: Hughes, Robin, Pike, Gary, Scheurich, James, Wright, Eric
School: Indiana University
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Web Studies, Higher education
Keywords: College choice, College enrollment and recruitment, Higher education, International students, Social media, Students from Russia
Publication Number: 10283958
ISBN: 978-0-355-05784-3
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