There were dual purposes of this qualitative phenomenological study. The first purpose was to describe and compare the goals, design, implementation, and outcomes of college counseling programs in college preparatory charter high schools in Los Angeles as experienced and shared by high school college counselors. The second purpose was to explore what college preparatory charter high school college counselors perceive to be the most important components in a charter high school college-going culture to assist underrepresented students with access to college and preparation to persist in higher education. This phenomenological study utilized interviews to collect data. The one-on-one interviews were with college counselors at Los Angeles college-preparatory charter high schools where at least 60% of students are from underrepresented backgrounds. The 9 interview questions were developed to learn about the goals, design, implementation, and outcomes of college counseling programs at the participants’ high schools. The questions were also designed to learn about what counselors perceive as important components in a college-going culture to help underrepresented students access and persist in higher education. The study yielded 5 conclusions. First, students and families from underrepresented backgrounds rely on their schools to inform them about the college preparation process. Second, parental involvement helps hold students academically accountable and helps them pursue higher education. Third, individualized academic advising is critical for student success. Fourth, charter high schools provide insight to address student-to-counselor ratios, which influence the quality of high school college counseling programs. Lastly, students’ ability to adapt and navigate changes in academic rigor, social environment, and academic community impacts their college access and persistence. The study yielded 4 recommendations. First, states, districts, and schools are encouraged to continue to address student-to-counselor ratios to enable personalized college counseling that students need. Second, it is advised that counselors have conversations about college in collaboration with parents. Third, it is recommended that schools provide opportunities via their college counseling programs to expose students to individuals from different backgrounds and to different environments. Finally, it is suggested that high schools challenge students academically to help them prepare for the academic rigor of higher education.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership, administration, and policy; Counseling in secondary education -- California; Educational counseling; Minorities -- Education

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Purrington, Linda;