Academic journal article College and University

Agents of Change

Academic journal article College and University

Agents of Change

Article excerpt

THIS ARTICLE DISCUSSES THE ROLES OF COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PROFESSIONALS AND HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELORS IN PREPARING STUDENTS TO APPLY TO, SELECT, AND ENROLL AT A COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY. FRAMED IN THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION, PERCEIVED AND REAL BARRIERS THAT HINDER STUDENTS FROM CONSIDERING AND ENROLLING IN COLLEGE, AND STRATEGIES PROVEN TO ALLEVIATE ACCESS ISSUES, THIS ARTICLE DESCRIBES OPPORTUNITIES TO ENHANCE THE COLLEGE-GOING PROCESS FOR YOUTH IN THE UNITED STATES

'Roles, Barriers, and Opportunities FOR COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PROFESSIONALS AND HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELORS

"Coming to Our Senses." "Building a Grad Nation." "Claiming Common Ground." "Pathways to Prosperity." "Poised to Lead." "Betraying the College Dream." "College Completion Agenda." The titles of these recent national reports on the current state and future needs of the American education system evidence the collective awareness, leadership, and research related to the continued education of young people. These phrases characterize the national emphasis on college access, academic progress, and degree completion (Balfranz et al. 2.012.; Callan et al. 2.006; College Board 2008; Hines, Lemons and Crews 2011; Lee and Rawls 2010; Symonds, Schwartz and Ferguson 2011; Venezia, Kirst and Antonio n.d.). There is a consensus that the pursuit of a college education is a fundamental right in the United States (Mortenson 2012; Tierney 2008). As such, evaluation and action are required to advance this initia- tive, and at the center are two primary groups of education professionals-high school counselors and college admissions professionals-both striving to support high school students' pursuit of postsecondary education.

Historically, high schools prepared students for either of two paths: employment or college. That structure has evolved to a more intentional, interrelated college and career readiness approach (Conley 2010). While some educators view college and career readiness as one and the same, others believe them to be distinctly different (Conley and McGaughy 2012). At the core of college readiness is the concept of college knowledge. Typically, college knowledge includes information about the college searc hp rocess, admission requirements, financial aid processes, and enrollment steps (Burleson, Hallett and Park 2008; Conley and McGaughy 2012). This article synthesizes research, implications, perspectives, and efforts by high school counselors and college admissions professionals to facilitate the education of young Americans in the 21st century.

FROM ELITISM TO ACCESS

Going to college is not synonymous with access to college. Going to college is the intent to go to college whereas access to college is having the opportunity to consider and enroll in college. "Prior to the 1950s, fewer than two of every 10 high school graduates went on to college," state Kinzie et al. (2004). These authors cite that same timeframe for college access becoming a focus of national public policy in the United States. The introduction of the GI Bill, the establishment of the United Negro College Fund, and the beginning of the community college expansion plan are cited as evidence of the then-emergent focus (Kinzie et al. 2004). Tierney (2008) refers to college access as a national imperative. Dubrow (2008) cites the complexities involved: "The single most perplexing conundrum facing American higher education, particularly since the birth of public colleges, is reconciling the two goals of access and quality..." College admissions professionals and high school counselors alike facilitate students' transition from high school to college.

"In a number of ways, the college admissions process is one that sorts students into institutions by income and social privilege; as such, it is a system that calcifies disparities between members of different economic and social status" states the University of Southern California (use) Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice (use 2011). …

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