As marketization and privatization strategies become commonplace in higher education, it is essential for institutions to understand how students make decisions about college choice. Students as consumers engage in complex college choice decision-making that is often impacted by institutional and personal characteristics, such as cost, location, academics, ethnicity, and gender. This concurrent, mixed methods case study brings together a college choice model and a model of consumer behavior to understand how women make decisions about enrollment. Results of the study indicate that women place significant emphasis on feelings related to fit, safety, and comfort. Moreover, the research indicates that considerations of the student as consumer metaphor should expand to include more complex identities and phases. The study also contributes a new theoretical perspective on marketing in higher education, suggesting personalized communication, segmentation, and marketing plans that can be used when recruiting women and consumers to their institution.
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