Leading for Change: Developing College and Career Guidance Systems That Engage Communities for a More Equitable Society

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Kristina A. Hesbol, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ellen Miller-Brown, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kent Seidel, Ph.D.


Social justice, Postsecondary workforce readiness, Student guidance, School administration, P-20 alignment


As school leaders strive to address the opportunity gap related to student performance in their schools, specific focus must be paid to the perpetuation of dominant culture values present within schools and within systems of practice. In order to have schools that truly meet the PWR needs of every student, school leaders must consider the impact of hegemonic systemic environments within their schools, influences on postsecondary education enrollment, and application of 21st century skills in PWR modeling. Districts and schools must critically examine the structures in place and determine how those may be preventing students of color from gaining PWR at rates consistent with their White peers.

Through this lens, school leaders may find that their school environments also lack intentional, deep dialogue school-wide about race and ethnicity. College and career guidance systems must address these issues so that students do feel welcome in higher education and do see themselves being professionals. Opting into these conversations can no longer be an accepted.By making a space for this dialogue, schools can create systems to help students navigate a higher education system inconsistent with their lived experiences. As in the cases in this study, school leaders may also find that they have neglected to collaboratively establish goals for students with families, potentially creating a discrepancy between what the school wants for the student and what parents want for their children. Only by honoring the role of the family and engaging them in planning can student guidance systems be aligned and developed for student support and matriculation into postsecondary education.

Expanding on this concept, schools need to assess whether their outreach to community is limited to provision of social service supports. It is critically important for students to engage with professionals of color in their communities. Impactful

opportunities exist for student exposure to careers and options for PWR by leveraging the expertise in the community. Finally, schools need to ensure they are not limiting the focus of PWR curriculum by not including career exploration and individualized application. Schools must design authentic exploration for students by allowing them to connect personal interests and skills with future career opportunities. Further, core academics can no longer be taught as separate from PWR. Students need to see application of concepts as they relate to their skills and interests. Additionally, schools need to ensure that PWR is not offered as an enrichment or extra-curricular activity, available only to some students. It must be universal and applied in a meaningfulway for individual students.

Unfortunately, too many times this level of examination simply is not occurring. Therefore, school leaders and school personnel need assistance in order to effectively analyze practices and learn to engage in conversations with all contributors within student guidance systems. School leaders need tools to be able to facilitate dialogue and set strategic priorities focused on equity with school personnel. School leaders need resources to help them identify ways to collaborate with families and communities to design a more representative and equitable college and career guidance system for students. They also need to ensure existence of systems that demand high expectations and college-going culture for all students and that there is school-wide support of PWR. In order to break cycles of under representation of people of color in high-wage earning careers in the workforce, students must be elevated; they must be held to high expectations by all players within their guidance systems - school personnel, families, and community members - and these systems must focus on doing so collaboratively in order to build a more equitable society.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

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