Social media and the university decision. Do prospective students really care?

Alison B. Shields, Adam Peruta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


In the world of social media marketing, colleges and universities can benefit from enhanced understanding of how prospective students use social media. Due to the ever-evolving nature of social media use, there are gaps in the current research regarding how students use social media to aid in their matriculation decision-making. Using survey data from current university students across the U.S. (n = 364) and one-on-one interviews (n = 12) with students at a small liberal arts college, the authors address conflicting information where students report both using and not using social media to narrow their search and make their matriculation decision. The findings suggest that while students may not report visiting social media sites or may report that social media does not impact their matriculation decision when asked in a survey, in interview settings the vast majority of students reported using social media platforms to learn more about higher education schools under consideration. By exploring which platforms students use and the selection of platforms for specific use cases, the authors provide suggestions and guidelines for social media managers looking to maximize the effectiveness of their social media recruiting strategies and campaigns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-83
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marketing for Higher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Decision-making
  • Higher education
  • Matriculation
  • Segmentation
  • Social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Marketing


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