Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 8-7-2021


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Educational Studies (General Education)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Rick McCown

Committee Member

Dr. Jesse Rine

Committee Member

Dr. William Edmonds


College Choice, African American/Black College Choice, African American/Black College Enrollment, Improvement Science, User-Centric Approach


The purpose of this study is to address the low participation of African American/Black students at private, predominantly White institutions (PPWIs), specifically exploring the influence the assumptions of administrators have of the current matriculation outcomes. The research question that drove the study is as follows: How do the assumptions and practices of administrators influence the recruitment and matriculation of African American/Black students at a PPWI? The research question is justified by the examination of empirical findings that describe the enrollment disparity among African American/Black students across higher education institution types and the systemic barriers that have impacted the participation of African American/Black students in higher education. Additionally, the changing demographics of higher education enrollment are examined to explain the approaching “enrollment cliff”, and the projected increase of African American/Black, and Hispanic students, coupled with the decline in White students. The empirical findings will be understood through the theoretical lenses of the role of prestige as a driver of higher education decisions and student college choice theory. The principles of improvement research will serve as the general methodological frame for data collection and analysis. Qualitative data were collected via semi-structured, in-depth interviews. The participants were six members of the enrollment management group at a PPWI. The interviews yielded themes that helped to answer the research question. Four themes emerged from the analysis of interview responses: institutional self-perception, addressing affordability, lack of diversity, and lack of interest. The findings are interpreted in order to offer (1) an explanation of how the assumptions and practices of enrollment management professionals at a PPWI influence the recruitment and matriculation policies and procedures that target African American/Black students and (2) a plan for improving the systems that bear on increasing the proportion of African American/Black students and the particular PPWI that served as the research site.