An Investigation of High School Counseling Programs as a Reflection of a College-Going Culture

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Park, Denise




The purpose of this study is to investigate high school counseling programs as a reflection of a college-going culture. A qualitative thematic analysis is used to examine four school counseling programs at high schools in a school district located along the Eastern seaboard of the United States. In order to increase the likelihood of identifying aspects of school counseling programs that are successful in reflecting a college-going culture, only high schools with high college-going percentage rates were selected for this study.

College-going culture theory, including the nine college-going culture principles, as proposed by McClafferty, McDonough, and Nunez (2002) is used as a framework for this study.  The college-going culture principles operate as themes to help categorize school counselor activities and measure whether the school counseling programs reflect a college-going culture in the schools.  A methodological triangulation is employed to identify planned college-going activities within three information sources from each school: school counselors' management plans, school counseling websites, and the school counseling departments' calendars. 

Results suggest that collectively, the four selected schools plan college-going activities that are consistent with all nine college-going culture principles, thus suggesting that there is a college-going culture that is strongly supported and reflected by the school counseling departments in these schools.  Suggestions, based on these findings, for how other schools might improve their college-going culture are included.  Implications for promoting cultural reform to support college access and success for all students are also discussed.