The influence of Facebook and other factors on fast-track evening MBA enrollment decisions
Dortch, Corey McArthur
MetadataShow full item record
This research examined the influence of Facebook and other factors on fast-track evening MBA enrollment decisions. The enrollment choices of undergraduate students have been studied extensively, and there are some parallels between the undergraduate student enrollment process and enrollment processes for graduate students. But less research has been conducted on graduate enrollment, and there has been virtually no research on the influences of Facebook on graduate enrollment decisions. Addressing those gaps, the research focused on a fast-track 23-month, year-round evening MBA program at a public research university. The study employed qualitative methods to examine two main research questions: 1) What impacts does Facebook have on enrollment decisions among students considering fast-track evening MBA programs? 2) What other factors are influential in those decisions? The analysis, rooted in semi-structured interviews with 18 respondents, suggests that Facebook did not have a significant role in determining students’ enrollment choices. Instead, students’ decisions were influenced more significantly by the program website, their perceived overall fit with the institution, the timing of the program delivery and anticipated time to degree completion, and by the costs of pursuing the degree. In addition, students reported that their families were noteworthy influences in determining their choice of program. Participants in this research also suggested that institutions update their program websites often, as those sites were consistently used by all of the interviewees in making their choices. The research had limitations, notably the small sample size and the examination of only one program in one institution. Future research in more and different institutions is needed to support further generalization. Future work might also address more intensively the specific ways websites influence students’ perceptions of the institution and their subsequent enrollment decisions. From a practical perspective, the absence of Facebook influences in this research suggests that applicants are not receiving personalized attention from institutions through that channel. Institutions may therefore wish to use other means to facilitate enrollment decision making by students and make it more personal. Similarly, admissions officers may need to devote substantial attention to ensuring adequate flexibility and individual responsiveness in admissions processes.