What is “College-Going Culture” in a Secondary School?
Professor Patricia McDonough at UCLA (firstname.lastname@example.org) has visited many low-income high schools to discover the key elements of a school culture that creates better college preparation and enrollment.
In schools where most disadvantaged students go to college, certain common factors are obvious. These schools create a COLLEGE CULTURE that all students and their families experience. Where such a culture exists, all students are prepared for a full range of postsecondary options through structural, motivational, and experiential college preparatory opportunities. In these schools…
- School leadership is committed to building a college culture
- All school personnel provide a consistent message to students that supports their quest for a college preparatory K-12 experience
- All counselors are college counselors
- Counselors, teachers, and families are partners in preparing students for college
Schools with a “college culture” usually exhibit most or all of the following Nine Critical Principles of a College Culture:
College Talk: Clear, ongoing communication among students, teachers, administrators, and families about what it takes to get to college
Clear Expectations: Explicit, clear-defined goals, communicated in ways that make them part of the culture of the school
Information and Resources: Comprehensive, up-to-date college information and resources, easily accessible by all students, families, and school personnel
Comprehensive Counseling Model: View of counseling that makes all student interactions with counseling staff opportunities for college counseling
Testing and Curriculum: Information about and access to “gatekeeping” tests (PSAT, SAT., etc.) and courses (A-G, AP, etc.) for all students
Faculty Involvement: Informed, active participation from school faculty in the creation and maintenance of a college culture
Family involvement: Meaningful engagement on the part of family members in the process of building a college culture
College Partnerships: Active links in a variety of forms between the school and local colleges and universities
Articulation: Ongoing coordination between counselors and teachers among all schools in a feeder group
Schools that want to change their college-going rates can work to balance their delivery of all nine of these principles. Start with an honest inventory, then move to change.
Labels: College Readiness