Choosing Colleges: How Social Class and Schools Structure Opportunity

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SUNY Press, Nov 13, 1997 - Education - 174 pages
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Based on interviews with students, parents, and counselors as well as case studies of the college guidance environments of a working-class public school, an upper-middle-class public school, a private preparatory school, and a Catholic school, McDonough examines the everyday experiences of high school seniors as they choose their colleges. The author shows that college choice is a more complex social and organizational reality than has been previously understood and shows how families and schools mutually influence individual student outcomes and our higher education opportunity structure. After half a century of increasing federal, state, and private investments in higher-education, phenomenal growth in the number of colleges, and enrollments of almost fifteen million students, Choosing Colleges asks why it is that there are vast differentials in college access. McDonough addresses access and equity issues by documenting how student college-choice decision making is influenced by colleges, high schools, parents, friends, and the media.
 

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Contents

Who Goes Where to College?
1
Patterns of Educational Attainment
2
College Choice Research
3
Status Attainment Literature
4
School Effects Literature
6
Theoretical Framework
8
Significance of the Study
12
Organization of the Book
13
Counselor Role Expectations
101
Summary of Actual and Normative Structure of College Advising
104
Organizational Habitus
106
Families Friends and Finances As Influences
111
Choosing a Private High School
112
Choosing a Private College Counselor
114
Family Involvement in College Choice Decision Making
120
Geographical Influences
132

Research Methodology
14
Limitations
16
So Many Ways to Choose a College
19
The Women of Gate of Heaven High School
27
University High Schools Women
31
The Women of Mission Cerrito High School
38
Four High Schools Four Social Worlds
45
Gate of Heaven High School
57
University High School
68
Mission Cerrito High School
76
A CrossCase Analysis of High School Guidance
89
Overview Guidance Structure and Outcomes
91
Organizational Mission and Curriculm
95
Assumptions of Students College Knowledge
100
College Visits
134
Friends
137
Finances
140
Low SES Students and College Finances
142
Job As Influence
145
Conclusions
146
College Choice in a Cultural Context
149
Implications
155
Cultural and Organizational Equality of Opportunity
157
Theory and Scholarship
158
Bibliography
163
Index
171
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About the author (1997)

Patricia M. McDonough is Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA.

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