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Action Research Project EPPL 751 College Choice

Action Research Project EPPL 751 College Choice. By Justine R. Okerson. Topic Statement.

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Action Research Project EPPL 751 College Choice

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  1. Action Research ProjectEPPL 751College Choice By Justine R. Okerson

  2. Topic Statement I am studying college choice through sociological understanding of the campus visit (information session and tour), because I want to find out how significant the role of the campus visit is in college decision-making in order to help my reader understand cultural capital and the demonstration of ritual in the college admission process.

  3. SOCIOLOGICAL ORIENTATION Symbolic Interactionism & Decision-Making Blumer (1969) Cultural Capital & Social Construction of the Applicant Bourdieu (1973) Ritual Theory & Creation of the College Community Collins (2004)

  4. Literature Review Decision-Making ProcessCultural CapitalRitual and Creation of Community

  5. Decision Making Process Hossler & Gallagher (1987) present a three-phase model for student decision-making regarding college choice. The first phase is the pre-disposition phase, in which a student decides if attending college is right for them, and if they decide to pursue further education after high school. Student achievement, access to resources, and family encouragement play a large role in the decision-making of the first stage. If the student decides to attend college, they move into the second phase of decision making- the search process. In the second phase, the student begins to gather resources both formally and informally on colleges, and begin creating and making emotionally driven decisions regarding specific colleges/universities. The final stage is choice, in which the student makes their final decision. Many characteristics including location, financial aid, academic quality, and campus visit are attributed to playing a role in the final choice.

  6. Cultural Capital McDonough (1994) studied both the how and why behind shifts in the college admissions process and related them to sociological theory. McDonough focuses on Pierre Bourdieu’s understanding of power relations by understanding the dynamic relationship between college applicants and highly selective institutions. McDonough explains the need to select the “right” college is based on social construction associated with the symbolism of the name/brand of a higher education institution. Families who have the means will make every attempt to ensure that their children will receive what may be termed their “birthright”. McDonough concludes that the admission process transforms high school students into commodities, which are socially constructed into a college applicant. 

  7. Ritual and Creation of Community Magolda (2000) depicts an experience of unpacking the rituals and symbols that are relayed on a campus tour at Miami University of Ohio. The rituals of the school continually create and transmit ideas about the college community to current and prospective students. Magoldaalso depicted the student tour guide as a performer of sorts whose role was to play not only a guide, but also a historian and admission coach. The campus tour, under this context, is full of opportunities to break down the social patterns and codes that describe a campus “community.”

  8. Proposed Action Research  Interviews with students, teachers, and guidance counselors Guidance counselor data from a variety of different high schools  Informal surveys from parents and campus visits  Discussion forum for parents, students, and counselors Data and information from college admission officers  Researcher field notes

  9. Preliminary Research Design  Mixed Methods Approach (Qualitative/Quantitative)  Data from local High Schools  Data from the College of William & Mary  Researcher will use sources for data triangulation  Using results to inform current practice


  11. References Ayalon, H. (2007). College application behavior: who is strategic? Does it help? Higher Education, 54(6), 885-905. Cohen, S. (2009) What colleges don’t know about admissions. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/What-Colleges-Dont-Know-About/48487/. Coomes, M.D. & DeBard, R. (Eds.). (2004). Serving the millennial generation. New Directions for Student Services, 106, 17-30. Hoover, E. (2009). Golden-walk gets a makeover from an auditor of campus visits. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Golden-Walk-Gets-a/21806. Hoover, E. (2010). In preparing for campus-visit day: no detail is too small to consider. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Retrieved from http://chronicle.texterity.com/chronicle/20100416a?pg=24#pg25. Hossler, D. & Gallagher, K.S. (1987). Studying student college choice: a three-phase model and the implications for policymakers. College and University, 62(3), 207-221. Kuh, G. (2009). Understanding campus environments. The Handbook of Student Affairs Administration, 59-80. Lareau, A. & Conley, D. (Eds.).(2008) Social class: how does it work? New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Magolda, P.M. (2000). The Campus Tour: Ritual and community in higher education. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 31(1), 24-46. Manning, K. (2000). Rituals, ceremonies, and cultural meaning in higher education. Santa Barbara: Praeger. McDonough, P.M. (1994). Buying and selling higher education: the social construction of the college applicant. Journal of Higher Education, 65 (4), 427-446. Paulsen, M.B. & St. John, E.P. (2002) Social class and college costs: examining the Financial nexus between college choice and persistence. The Journal of Higher Education, 73(2), 189-236. Yost, M.R. & Tucker, S.L. (1995). Tangible evidence in marketing of a service: the value of a campus visit in choosing a college. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 6(1), 47-67.

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