Advancing College-Going Culture

What is a college-going culture?

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College-going culture refers to the environment, attitudes, and practices in schools and communities that encourage students and their families to obtain the information, tools, and perspective to enhance access to and success in post-secondary education.

Three necessary elements are:

  1. Students learn about options for their future, careers and the education they require, as early as elementary school, with a specific focus beginning in middle school.
  2. Schools convey the expectation that all students can prepare for the opportunity to attend and be successful in post-secondary education.
  3. Schools, families, and communities give students the same message of high expectations for their future.

In addition to college-going, the broad goal is for students to believe they can have a great future, and that they can plan and prepare for many options leading to a creative and productive life after high school. Students may think they know what they want, but we know their interests and career aspirations may and most likely will change, and they need to be prepared for those possibilities. Students need to know that there are many paths they can take to have a successful life journey.

See below for a link to an article on how a college-going culture fits into the broader agenda of equitable college access.


Critical Conditions for Equity and Diversity in College Access: Informing Policy and Monitoring Results


This paper provides an excellent summary of the conditions that students in under-resourced communities require for learning and successful college preparation. The paper presents leading indicators that the state needs to monitor if we are to reduce disparities in learning resources and opportunities. The paper argues that these conditions are, for the most part, routinely available for middle class youngsters from college-going families.


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Last modified on 9/10/2009

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