Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Educational Administration


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Perry, Andre M.

Second Advisor

Causey-Konate, Tammie M.

Third Advisor

Del Favero, Marietta

Fourth Advisor

Cropley, Lorelei


The role of school culture in facilitating underrepresented students' access to and success in college is examined in this ethnographic study. The purpose of this study is to examine an urban, public high school's culture in the southeast region of the United States with a high population of African Americans and students living in poverty. The college-­ going culture theory proposed by McClafferty, McDonough and Nunez (2002) and later refined by McDonough (2006) is used as a framework for this study and an ethnographic research design is employed using interviews, observations, open-­ended surveys, and document review as data collection methods. The objective of the study is to describe the culture of an urban high school by examining its artifacts, values and beliefs and underlying assumptions, specifically as it relates to preparation of students for postsecondary education. Findings from this study will help inform strategies on reforming school culture to support college access and success for urban high school students, and will support the use of the college-­going culture theory as a useful lens through which to understand college access issues. Additionally, this study helps to describe some of the common characteristics of urban education in the heart of education reform and describes the core challenges associated with developing college-­going culture in urban communities with high poverty and low college attendance rates.


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