Consumer choice of college is influenced heavily by a set of cultural, personal and social characteristics. These characteristics are different for every individual and marketers cannot control these factors, making these factors important while taking into account the choice for college program. Thus, the choice of college depends on a complex interplay of the cultural, social and personal factors (Kotler & Armstrong 135).
Characteristics Affecting College Choice
The cultural factors that affect the customer choice for colleges are the consumers’ culture, social class and subculture. Cultural perception of a college such has Wharton or Harvard having better educational program in comparison to a non-Ivy league college has its impact on choosing the college or educational program. Within each culture, there are smaller groups called subcultures that consist of people having shared values based on their common life situations and experiences. A student might choose to attend a college that is in the geographic location of their choice. Sub-cultural choices can be depended on the geographic regions, racial groups, religions and nationalities. Every society has its own structure of social class that are relatively ordered and permanent divisions whose members have the same interests, values and behaviours. Selecting a college program or university which attracts the best organizations in the business world or choosing a program where graduates get the highest packages indicates the choice of program on the basis of social class attached with the program (Kotler & Armstrong 135-139).
Social Characteristics also influences the consumer behaviour while making choice of a college program. These social characteristics are the social groups, family and social roles & status. Selecting a college program on the basis of a college sorority or club is an indicator of, choice made after considering the social group. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter can help students to collect information about college programs through exchanging information and opinions. Family is an important part of the social characteristics of an individual when making the choice of college program. Family members like parents, wife, children and relatives have a strong influence of the choosing a college program over another. Student might choose a program on the basis of following the footsteps ancestors or parents. Student choosing a college on the basis of its strong social group is an example of social role and status playing important role in college program selection. Role of an individual comprises of the actions people expect the individual to perform (Chapman; Kotler & Armstrong 139-144).
Consumer choices change with age and life-cycle, as the taste in material items of individual changes on the basis of their needs. An individual with no work experience will join a full-time program whereas a working individual will choose a part-time or executive course. When a student selects a college program as it has lower tuition in comparison to other colleges is an example of making choice on the basis of the economic situation. Lifestyle of a college program or city can also affect the choice of student in selecting a course, as students might select a city which suits their lifestyle need of a better nightlife, off-campus job opportunities and other socio-economic possibilities (Armstrong 144-150; Hossler & Gallagher 207-221).
With so many options while choosing college and program the task can become overwhelming, but consumers choose colleges on the basis of some key factors. Choosing a College and program is an important life decision and every individual have a different choice that gets affected by the cultural, social and personal characteristics. These characteristics direct individuals to different directions and choices and help them make the most accurate choice according to their needs.
Chapman, R. Toward a theory of college choice: A model of college search and choice behavior. Alberta, Canada: University of Alberta Press, 1984. Print.
Hossler, D, and K. Gallagher. "Studying college choice: A three-phase model and the implication for policy makers." College and University 2 (1987): 207-221. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
Kotler, P, and G. Armstrong. "Consumer Markets and Consumer Buyer Behavior." Principles of Marketing. 14th ed. New Jersey, United States : Prentice Hall, 2011. 135-147. Print.