Publication Date

Spring 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Aaron Hughey (Director), Lester Archer, Joseph Cangemi, and Nicholas Brake

Degree Program

Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


After decades of research, the question of a universal college choice still abounds. In the United States scholars still advance disparate data on how students make college choice decisions that meet their particular needs. And, whereas research is replete with studies on the college choice of black families, there remains a dearth of studies on Black people of foreign descent, an integral demographic of the overall U.S. higher education enrollment.

This qualitative case study focuses on the college choice plights of West African students who enroll at U.S. public universities. It employs a West African-centric version of the Hossler and Gallagher model of student college choice to gauge respondents, who encompassed current and former West African students (graduates and undergraduates) at U.S. public universities.

Findings from this study suggest that for West African students, college choice is a multifactor process involving the student, family, and friends as most college decisions are made in consultation with families or friends, or both. Additionally, the findings also indicate that provision of scholarship, prospect for opportunities, need for exposure to modern technologies and faculties, adversarial condition in home country, and limited college choice in home country do influence West African international students’ college choice of U.S. public universities, with scholarship overwhelmingly standing out as the greatest driving force behind their choice. With the aid of families and/or friends, these factors help at the search stage to develop a choice set of possible universities and at the choice stage to make a final decision.

With scholarship as a paramount concern, some family members get to select institutions for their relatives; for others, the search process is sometimes abruptly abandoned at the offer of a scholarship. Also, given the crave for Western education, many West African international students would enroll at any U.S. public university with a genuine offer of a full scholarship.


Education | International and Comparative Education | Other Education