TitlePost-secondary planning paradoxes
NameDevine Eller, Audrey Elizabeth (author), Carr, Patrick J (chair), Cerulo, Karen (internal member), Stein, Arlene (internal member), Daipha, Phaedra (internal member), Jennings, Jennifer J (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
High schools--New Jersey--Sociological aspects ,
High school counselors--New Jersey--Interviews,
High school students--New Jersey
DescriptionThis dissertation examines the interactional processes that lead to stratified post-secondary planning and outcomes among high school students. In contrast to most sociological research on education, I study “regular” students, neither the overachievers nor those at risk of dropping out. I address how the mundane details of students’ daily lives are patterned to produce and reproduce systems of privilege. In the first of two waves of research, I interviewed 28 New Jersey counselors. In the second wave, I spent two years shadowing students through 11th and 12th grades at one racially and socioeconomically diverse high school in the suburban fringe of New York City. Multiple ethnographic methods included focus groups, school-day shadowing and repeated interviews of 17 focal students, and interviews with teachers, parents, counselors, and administrators. I argue that students’ lives are structured by a series of paradoxes, beginning with the college-for-all paradox: we expect all students to go to college, and yet fewer than half do. I explore a number of sub-paradoxes that structure student experience in high school. First, some counselors employ a pedagogical role; they scaffold post-secondary planning to foster a “dependent independence” that makes it (incorrectly) appear that students are doing it on their own. Second, New Jersey High School (NJHS) sends a series of complex mixed messages about college in response to a student body with diverse post-secondary outcomes. Mixed messages appear in formal and informal interactions and in the school’s institutional structures. NJHS tells students that college is for everyone, but it’s actually not for all of them. Third, students must navigate through these vague messages to figure out where they fit vis-à-vis their classmates and how that might inform their post-secondary plans. They must do this in a cultural space in which they are just learning which comparisons are acceptable and which must be left implicit. These strategies allow students to adjust their expectations while absolving teachers and counselors from giving advice that is difficult to hear. This leaves students with often mistaken impressions of solid college plans, and they thereby come to understand not going to college as a personal failure.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Audrey Elizabeth Devine Eller
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.