College Recruiting Dissertations


This research focused on the recruitment activities of higher education social media administrators and observed student interactions within institutional social media communities. The individual social media administrators interviewed for this qualitative case study shared their experiences using social media for prospective and admitted student outreach. More than 1800 social media comment threads from dozens of students at the five participating four-year institutions were observed during the yield period of the students’ college search processes. This research used Hossler and Gallagher’s Three Phase Model of Student College Choice, specifically the second of the three phases, the search phase, to explore student connectivity with institutions during their college choice process. The study also referenced Vincent Tinto’s retention theories relative to retaining college applicants. The study positioned the second phase as crucial for colleges and universities to aggressively reach out to students in effort to establish relationships that may lead to a student’s increased affinity with the institution and an ultimate choice to enroll. Key findings of this research indicated that institutions, regardless of size or geographic location, place a high value on social media during the recruitment process, both for engagement and to offer customer service to incoming students. Higher education social media administrators showed high levels of campus collaboration, and dedication to providing real time student service with limited resources. Patterns discovered through an observation of institutional private social student communities indicated a discrepancy in the current industry focus on outcomes and accessibility. Observed students expressed interest primarily in forming friendships, finding roommates, attending campus events, sharing personal interests, and expressing excitement and frustration associated with the enrollment processes at their respective institutions. Higher education social media administrators, admissions, enrollment management, and marketing leaders may use this information to make more informed strategic decisions with regard to communication to prospective and admitted students. They may base their strategies and alter their messaging based on the spaces that students use most frequently and the topics of conversation that mean the most to students during certain points of the recruitment cycle.


Communication Technology and New Media | Educational Leadership | Instructional Media Design

Recommended Citation

Martin, Corie M., "Social Media Engagement and Collegiate Recruitment: An Examination of the Use of Social Networks in the College Recruitment and Student Choice Processes" (2015). Dissertations. Paper 93.

Online social networking goes to college: Two case studies of higher education institutions that implemented college-created social networking sites for recruiting undergraduate students

Christopher Paul Ferguson, University of Pennsylvania


With increased competition among higher education institutions for best-fit students, the profession of college admissions is compelled to implement innovative recruiting strategies (e.g. online social networking sites), that may impact college access and persistence in the United States. This qualitative study examined the reasons why two distinct higher education institutions implemented college-created social networking sites (SNSs) as a way to recruit undergraduate students. Interviews, social network site observations, and document analysis were the primary methods used to investigate the following research questions: (1) Why did the institution explore the phenomenon of social networking sites as a recruiting strategy; (2) how did it implement a college-created networking site for the purpose of recruiting undergraduate students; and (3) based on a comparison of admitted applicants to enrolled student yield rates between SNS members and nonmembers, how effective was that site as a recruiting strategy. The researcher found that the institutions studied here explored the phenomenon of social networking as a recruiting strategy because online SNSs are a popular platform that college and high school students use to engage in conversation during the college choice process. Each of the institutions also had a culture of experimentation amongst its enrollment management staff, and there was an individual or vendor associated with the institution who was a visionary in using social networking as a college-specific platform. A common belief among staff members at these institutions shared was that SNSs are a marketing tool that enables institutions to be "authentic" by allowing members to create, collect, and share stories in relation to its college environment. The design of these college-specific SNSs was strongly influenced by general-use SNSs like Facebook and MySpace. Like these popular sites, the college-based SNSs focused on member-created content as the basis for communication. In order to assess the effectiveness of a college-created SNS, the researcher determined that institutions must connect its SNS to its student information system. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Marketing|Education, Higher Education Administration|Business Administration, Management|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Ferguson, Christopher Paul, "Online social networking goes to college: Two case studies of higher education institutions that implemented college-created social networking sites for recruiting undergraduate students" (2010). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3410480.


Since August 25, 2010


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