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Pervasive College-Going Culture

Our school’s messaging about college prep activities and courses along with encouragement for students to actively explore their own interests, motivation, and self-identity is pervasive throughout the school and not solely reliant on the counseling office.  Adults in our building (teachers, secretaries, coaches etc.), serve to guide, encourage, and connect students with resources. Targeted outreach to students does not rely on the students coming to us, we meet the student where they are at.

Not Yet

Opportunities are advertised from the counselor’s office and then it is up to the student to go to the counselor’s office or otherwise respond.  Students are expected to initiate conversations with the counselor to get support in their post-secondary planning.


There are planned presentations for students in various classes to help them learn about opportunities and to guide them through making choices to help prepare for post-secondary. Follow up from the presentations is often left up to the student. 

We Got This!

Academic and post secondary messaging is common throughout the building. Adults in the building have skills in encouraging students and guiding them in their own goal setting, and self-monitoring, and 4-year planning.  Adults avoid projecting their own beliefs and values on students, but rather are skillful in guiding and encouraging them and access the counseling department as needed for further assistance. 



Many schools advertise opportunities to students, but then rely on those students to respond or seek out those opportunities. There are two researched tendencies that undermine access for Alaska Native students. First, families of Alaska Native students, especially first generation students, are often not as familiar with opportunities or college path expectation; and two, there is a tendency in interdependent cultures such as Native cultures, for parents to allow their child to take the lead on setting their own post-secondary path.  To compound the issue, the students themselves often have little background or knowledge of the importance of the opportunities being “advertised” or the skills in how to access them.

This is compounded when students do not participate in early learning opportunities or plan to take AP or dual credit courses early.  Early messaging from the teachers, coaches, and staff they spend the most time with can help kids think of themselves and their own goals within a college-going path.

Field Story


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High school counseling practices often “rely on students approaching the career advisor for advice”, disadvantaging Indigenous students who’s “families often do not have the educational capital to inform their children about the options and possibilities” (James et al. p. 49). Students were largely left up to themselves to seek out a Running Start dual credit program available in several high schools in Hawaii; those that did access the program required a high level of need for support to get through the application process, including accessing immunization records and meeting other application prerequisites for Native Hawaiian students (Hodara & Wang, 2015).

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