Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


Despite record growth in international student enrollment at community colleges, little is known about how the international students learn about community colleges and ultimately decide to attend. The purpose of this research is to identify what factors lead international students to decide to attend Illinois community colleges. Furthermore, this study explores both the knowledge students had about community colleges and the sources of this information prior to their decision to attend.

The research study utilized a multi-theoretical framework encompassing world culture theory, push-pull theory, and cognitive decision making theory. Using a qualitative case study design, thirteen international students from four different Illinois community colleges were interviewed. Study participants were selected from the four community colleges which were charter members of the Study Illinois consortium, an international student recruiting initiatives involving the U.S. Department of Commerce and Illinois higher education institutions. An analysis of the interview data formulates the study’s findings.

The findings reveal community college international students experience a distinctive decision making process when selecting their destination institution. As part of the process, international students relied most heavily on information provided by personal contacts or privately contracted educational agents in learning about community colleges. The research study illuminates the factors which resonate strongest with community college international students in these settings and the optimal steps in the decision making process in strategizing international student recruitment.