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Developing a College Going Culture: What the Research Says and How to Apply It!. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University Ileana Gonzalez, Doctoral Student University of Maryland. What was your educational journey?.

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developing a college going culture what the research says and how to apply it

Developing a College Going Culture: What the Research Says and How to Apply It!

Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins University

Ileana Gonzalez, Doctoral Student

University of Maryland


-Any surprises about your partner’s Ed Journey?-What messages do you think your students are getting? -Are they similar/different to the messages you received? -How many of you have children? -What messages are you giving your children? -How is that message similar of different than the ones we give to our students.

what is a college going culture
What is a College Going Culture?

The environment, attitudes, and behaviors in schools and communities that support and encourage students and their families to obtain the information, tools, and perspective to ensure access to and success in post-secondary education.

mcdonough s conceptualization of a college going culture
McDonough’s Conceptualization of a College-Going Culture

Clear Expectations

College Partnerships

Family Involvement

Comprehensive Counseling Model

Testing & Curriculum

Faculty Involvement

Information and Resources


clear expectations
Clear Expectations

Explicit goals of college preparation must be defined and communicated clearly, consistently, and in a variety of ways by families and all school personnel.

School mission statement

Four year plans for all students

Frequent communication with students about their college options

Ongoing opportunities to discuss college preparation, define goals

college partnerships
College Partnerships

Have active links between K-12 schools and local colleges and universities that can lead to field trips, college fairs, and academic enrichment programs

Students at all grade levels have visited local college campuses

College dress days, door decoration contests, guest speakers

Tutoring programs

Pen Pal program with college students

family involvement
Family Involvement

Family members must have opportunities to gain college knowledge and understand their role.

College Fairs for students and their families

Evening/weekend parent workshops to learn about college preparation, financial planning

Parents supported in their belief that their children are “college material.”

comprehensive counseling model
Comprehensive Counseling Model

All counselors serve as college counselors and all student interactions with counselors are college advising opportunities

All high school counselors attend state college conferences

Counselors at all grade levels have on-going collaboration

Counselors distribute college information to all students, faculty, and staff

testing and curriculum
Testing and Curriculum

Students must be informed about necessary tests, must be given the opportunity to prepare for these tests, and testing fees must be taken into account

PSAT given on school day to all 10th graders with fees waived

Master schedules changed to make more college prep classes available

Students learn organizational skills

faculty involvement
Faculty Involvement

Faculty must be active, informed partners with counselors, students, and families and professional development opportunities must be available.

Classroom decorations and “college corners”

College Talk in class time

Mathematics teachers work with PSAT-takers

Teachers understand their roles in college prep

Teachers visit counseling office

information and resources
Information and Resources

Students must have access to up-to-date, comprehensive college information and schools must build college knowledge infrastructure.

College-related periodicals

PSAT/SAT/ACT materials

Financial aid materials

College catalogs

College choice guides

CD ROMS on college planning

Workshops on test prep, financial planning, and high school coursework planning


Students should have a seamless experience from kindergarten through high school graduation, with ongoing communication among all schools in a feeder group, and work at one school site should connect with activities at other levels.

Students hear a consistent message at all grade levels

As early as kindergarten, students are seeing themselves as college material

Middle schools connect with students as young as fifth grade

High school and middle school counselors are pooling resources and making connections

uc berkeley s center for educational partnerships
UC Berkeley’s Center for Educational Partnerships

A College-Going Culture consists of….

College Talk

Clear Expectations

Information and Resources

Comprehensive Counseling

Testing and Curriculum

Faculty Involvement

Family Involvement

College Partnerships


uc accord s research on increasing college access
UC Accord’s Research on Increasing College Access

Leading Indicators of Increasing College Access:

Safe and Adequate School Facilities

A College-Going School Culture

Rigorous Academic Curriculum

Qualified Teachers

Intensive Academic and Social Supports

Opportunities to Develop a Multicultural College Going Identity

Family-Neighborhood-School Connections

1 safe and adequate schools
1. Safe and Adequate Schools

Students must attend schools that are free of overcrowding, violence, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and other features of school climates that diminish achievement and access to college.

2 a college going culture
2. A College Going Culture

Teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, and students expect students to have all the experiences they need for high achievement and college preparation. Adults encourage students to exert the necessary effort and persistence throughout their entire educational career and adults work diligently to eliminate school-sanctioned alternatives to hard work and high expectations! Students believe college is for them!

rigorous academic curriculum
Rigorous Academic Curriculum

Students are prepared for and have access to algebra in middle school and college preparatory and AP courses in high school

qualified teachers
Qualified Teachers

Knowledgeable, experiences, and fully certified teachers provide instruction that engages students in work of high intellectual quality.

intensive academic and social supports
Intensive Academic and Social Supports

Teachers and counselors play a pivotal role in informing and preparing secondary students for college. Students need support networks of adults and peers who help access tutors, material resources, counseling services, summer academic programs, SAT prep, coaching about college admissions and financial aid, and other timely assistance.

opportunities to develop a multicultural college going identity
Opportunities to Develop a Multicultural College-Going Identity

Students see college going as integral to their identities; they have the confidence and skills to negotiate college without sacrificing their own identity and connections with their home communities. They recognize that college is a pathway to careers that are valued in their families, peer groups, and local communities.

connections among families neighborhoods and schools around college going
Connections Among Families, Neighborhoods, and Schools Around College-Going

Connections between families and schools build on parents’ strengths and consider them a valuable education resource for students. Educators and community groups work together to ensure that all families have access to essential knowledge of college preparation, admission, and financial aid.

pathways to college network college focused schools do the following
Pathways to College Network College Focused Schools Do the Following

Expect all underserved students are capable of being prepared to enroll and succeed in college

Provide a range of high quality, college prep tools for students and families

Embrace social, cultural and varied learning styles when developing the environment and activities at the school

pathways to college network college focused schools do the following24
Pathways to College Network: College Focused Schools Do the Following

Involve leaders at all levels in establishing policies, programs, and practices

Maintain sufficient financial and human resources for this mission

Assess policy, programs, and practices regularly to determine their effectiveness

why strengthen college going culture in our schools and communities
Why Strengthen College-Going Culture in Our Schools and Communities?

College ready rates differ disproportionately by student/family income level and racial/ethnic groups.

realizing the college dream
Realizing the College Dream

Three Premises

All students should graduate from high school with a college preparatory curriculum that enables them to take advantage of all options in postsecondary education or in a career

realizing the college dream27
Realizing the College Dream

No matter what their futures may bring, as adults these students will benefit from the academic rigor found in college preparatory work.

In this time of high stakes exams, economic hardship and changing demographics, it is important for students to understand how today’s challenging course work means a brighter future not only for themselves, but for their families and communities.

common misperceptions about preparing for college
Common Misperceptions About Preparing for College

Meeting my high school graduation requirements will prepare me for college

It’s better to take easier classes and get better grades

My senior year in high school doesn’t matter

I don’t have to worry about my grades, or the kind of classes I take, until my sophomore year.

barriers to developing a college going culture
Barriers to Developing a College Going Culture

Counselor-Student Ratio

Tendency of counselors to do one-on-one work that doesn’t influence the “culture” of a school

Resistance from teachers (feeling like the have too many “external program” or some who do not think the college message is worthwhile.

questions to explore
Questions to Explore:

What is our graduation rate?

What is our college application rate?

What is our college acceptance rate?

What are our school counselors’ top three priorities, and how is their year and days structured?

What percentage of our students take the SAT? ACT? PSAT? PLAN?

How many AP or college level classes does our school offer?

What is our faculty’s attitude toward the notion that every student at our school can succeed in college?

questions to explore31
Questions to Explore:

How often do our administrators, counselors, and teachers consult college professors and administration about curricular decisions regarding student preparation or ask for data on the performance of graduates?

What do we do to promote college information sessions?

Do we emphasize college advocacy during our hiring and evaluation practices?

Do all of our students have access to all teachers and classes?

Is one of our school improvement goals related to the issue of college?

my educational journey was
My Educational Journey was…

Scenic route


Extended Vacation

Stop & Go

Bumpy Road

Stop Signs

Guided Tour

Smooth Sailing

No Traffic


Delayed Flight

Sinking ship

Hang gliding

Adventure Tour


Foggy, but clearing



Rolling a Rock Uphill

Stepping Stones

Fly by Night