Why Did They Come Here?: The Influences and Expectations of First-Year Students’ College Experience

Louis S. Nadelson, Boise State University
Carrie Semmelroth, Boise State University
Gregory Martinez, Boise State University
Matthew Featherstone, Boise State University
Casey Alex Fuhriman, Boise State University
Andrew Sell, Boise State University

This document was originally published by Canadian Center of Science and Education in Higher Education Studies. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/. doi: 10.5539/hes.v3n1p50


Students’ expectations and experiences with university life are influenced by a number of variables. Many universities develop programs or promote aspects of existing programs to market the university’s image. This research was motivated by our desire to determine the relationships between first-year students’ college expectations and experiences, their awareness of the university’s programming and projected image, the influence of the programming and image on their decision to attend the institution, and the students’ personal characteristics. Our survey of 351 first-year students revealed positive perceptions of their university expectations and experiences, a mixture of influences on their decision to attend the university, and correlations between program awareness and the influence on students’ university attendance. We also uncovered a number of relationships between expectations, experience, and perceptions of influences with the personal characteristics of the students. Implications, directions for future research, and limitations are discussed.