Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Pender Noriega

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Cornett



The problem is international students are not returning to their undergraduate Tier 1 institutions during a period when quality student enrollment is essential, and there is scant research on academic advising strategies that can be used to combat international student attrition at these universities (O’Keefe, 2013). Studies have often lumped all international students together and made efforts to attract more international students, but the reasons why international students chose research universities, and returned, were not being investigated in this manner (Hegarty, 2014).

The purpose of this proposed study was to gain an understanding of the decision-making and reasoning processes international students use in choosing to return to a Tier 1 research university. An additional goal was to evaluate why there is a vast amount of attrition among international students in not returning to their Tier 1 institutions and what activities leaders and advisors might be able to implement to motivate more of these students to return to these institutions. Hence, the theoretical framework for this exploratory qualitative case study was Expectancy Theory (Vroom, 1964) as the underpinning goal is to gain an understanding of the motivational factors and decision-making processes used by international students when choosing to attend and return to a Tier 1 research university in the United States.

Major findings were that Personal Communication with Leader, Cost, and Seminars on Various Topics motivated international students to return to their Tier-I research university. Additionally, Job Opportunities and Social Clubs/Organizations were also motivating factors in international students returning to their Tier-I research universities.

Conclusions made were that most international students expected that they would be able to pay for college and expected good work opportunities while a student, and expected better job opportunities once they graduated from their Tier I university. From collection and analyzing interview data, the researcher concluded that there were seven (7) motivational activities that lead to international students deciding to return to their Tier-I Research University. The seven motivational activities were: 1) Personal Communication with Leader, 2) Cost, 3) Paperwork, 4) Seminars on Various Topics, 5) Job Opportunities, 6) Social Clubs/Organizations, and 7) Honors College.