How Counselors Can Shape the College Plans of First-Generation Students

High-school counselors can influence whether ninth-graders whose parents do not have bachelor’s degrees plan to attend college, suggests a report released on Thursday by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

The report, “Preparing Students for College: What High Schools Are Doing and How Their Actions Influence Ninth Graders’ College Attitudes, Aspirations, and Plans,” is based on an analysis of new, nationally representative data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009.

That analysis found a relationship between counselors’ interactions with prospective first-generation students and their parents on the one hand and the students’ college aspirations on the other. The time counselors spent on college-going activities had a statistically significant effect, for example, on students’ perception that college was affordable.

Similarly, speaking to a counselor about college correlated with students’ plans to enroll in a bachelor’s-degree program right after high school. The same pattern appeared for students whose parents had talked to a counselor or teacher about college.

In addition, the report provides data on student-to-counselor ratios, the attitudes and activities of high-school counselors, and the college-level classes that high schools offer.

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