NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED530572
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 21
ISSN: ISSN-1938-7830
The Pedagogy of College Access Programs: A Critical Analysis. Critical Essay. ASHE/Lumina Fellows Series. Issue 5
Bloom, Janice
Association for the Study of Higher Education
This critical essay is based on ethnographic research that followed thirteen students (from different social classes and racial background) through the college application process during their senior year of high school (Bloom, 2007). The study's purpose was to understand the accumulation and use of social and cultural capital by critically analyzing the resources first-generation students and families appear to lack. Moreover, the study was concerned with identifying important social and cultural resources that middle- and upper-middle-class students and families bring to the college transition. This essay asks: What are the processes through which students develop concrete college aspirations and a sense of efficacy in pursuing those aspirations? How is an understanding of the landscape of higher education (the differences between public and private, small and large, liberal arts or vocational colleges, etc.) built over time, and what exactly leads students to consider--or not consider--more selective institutions and schools across a greater geographic range? What kinds of social networks are needed to successfully navigate the application process? In each of these areas, the study attempts to move beyond noting differences across race and class to exploring the processes through which these differences are created. Three specific areas in relation to access to dominant social and cultural capital are addressed: (1) What Appadurai (2004) has termed the "capacity to aspire" by students from differing backgrounds, as it relates to higher education; (2) Students' knowledge of the landscape of higher education and their choice process as they consider a range of institutions; and (3) The ways that students and families navigate the actual college application process. Finally, the essay addresses the pedagogy behind many existing college access programs. Specifically, it assesses programs' knowledge about crucial but subtle differences in resources across race and class, including ability to provide true access to the kinds of institutional supports that middle- and upper-income students have. Moreover, the ways that college access programs do (or do not) position first-generation college-going students as actors and owners of their own transition process are addressed. In doing so, this essay hopes to raise important--but currently unasked--questions about the pedagogy of college access programs, and illuminate why some current programs may not be successfully ameliorating existing inequities. (Contains 3 footnotes.) [This essay was written with the assistance of Michelle Fine, Stephen Porter, Laura Rendon, and Lori Chajet.]
Association for the Study of Higher Education. Box 453068 4505 South Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89154. Tel: 702-895-2737; Fax: 702-895-4269; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Association for the Study of Higher Education