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ERIC Number: ED539704
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Dec
Pages: 43
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 21
From Aspirations to Action: The Role of Middle School Parents in Making the Dream of College a Reality
Cunningham, Alisa F.; Erisman, Wendy; Looney, Shannon M.
Institute for Higher Education Policy
The importance of going to college has increased in the context of global competition and continuing stratification in society. Many strides have been made in encouraging students and parents to believe in the value of higher education, but the process of preparing for and applying to college is not easy. It requires making a variety of complex choices that range from pursuing a challenging academic curriculum to developing an understanding of college financing. Middle school is a crucial stage at which students and their parents must begin to make these choices. Studies have shown that almost all parents hope that their children will be able to attend college, but many parents do not have the necessary information to help their children make the important early choices that will help them prepare to fulfill their college dreams. Worse still, it is often the parents who most need the information and who find it difficult to obtain, leaving their children at risk of not properly preparing for college. College access programs often attempt to fill in the lack of college knowledge, particularly for disadvantaged students. However, these programs traditionally target at-risk groups in the later years of high school. Research suggests that targeted efforts at this stage may be too late for college planning. In addition, many programs do not bring parents and other family members into discussions about planning for college and thus help them understand their role in guiding their children through the college preparation process. To explore these issues, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) commissioned a nationwide survey to ask parents of middle school students about the steps they have taken to start planning for college. The findings from this survey may be grouped into four key choice points on the pathway to college: (1) aspirations; (2) college knowledge and planning; (3) academic preparation; and (4) financial preparation. Working toward greater involvement by parents in early college planning will require a comprehensive approach that combines outreach efforts, curricular changes, increased program support, and other activities. It will also require participation at all levels, including students and families, high schools, colleges, state and local governments, the federal government, and the private sector. Appended are: (1) Survey Instrument for the "IHEP Survey of Middle School Parents"; and (2) List of Kids to College Partners. (Contains 14 figures, 3 tables and 18 footnotes.)
Institute for Higher Education Policy. 1825 K Street Suite 720, Washington, DC 20006. Tel: 202-861-8223; Fax: 202-861-9307; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Sallie Mae Fund
Authoring Institution: Institute for Higher Education Policy
IES Cited: ED506465