Date of Award

Summer 2023

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Guan Saw

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Thomas Luschei

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

June Hilton

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2023 Jamilla Jamison


advanced coursework, college access, college aspirations, college counseling, first-generation college, undermatching

Subject Categories

Higher Education | School Psychology | Secondary Education


It is well documented that college degree attainment can impact lifetime earnings and social mobility. However, research shows that first-generation college students (FGCs) are less likely than their peers to enroll in college after high school. The influence of a college counselor at the high school level as an influential other may positively influence college-going rates for first-generation students and help to close educational attainment gaps between FGCs and non-FGCs. While previous research has examined lower college aspirations, academic preparation, and enrollment rates of FGCs, previous literature has yet to address the role of college counseling support on the four-year college aspirations, academic preparation, and enrollment selectivity levels for FGC students. This dissertation utilizes three separate, but connected studies to examine the college counseling support variables that impact three phases of college choice: 1) 9 th and 11 th grade college aspirations; 2) college academic preparation; and 3) four-year college enrollment selecitivity levels. The studies are guided by a three-phase college choice theoretical framework that incorporates the impact of college counseling support at each phase. The three quantitative studies in this dissertation utilize nationally representative, longitudinal data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 which surveyed more than 21,000 9 th -grade students in 2009. Additional surveys were administered to students in 2012, 2013 and 2016 as well as to parents, counselors, teachers and school administrators. The studies in this dissertation used independent, dependent, and control variables that span multiple surveys. Linear probability models, linear regressions, and multinomial logistic regressions were used to analyze disparaities in college aspirations, preparation, and enrollment levels among FGCs and non-FGCs. The three studies are the first to use nationally representative data to show that while FGCs are less likely to have access to college counseling support at their high schools. However, the results also found that those FGCs who had access to meaningful college counseling support saw increased college aspirations, academic preparation, and enrollment levels at highly selective four-year institutions. This dissertation has important policy and practice implications in that it demonstrates the need for prioritization of funding for high school counseling departments by school and district administrators as well as by state legislators. The results of the studies could inform high school college counseling practices and encourage counseling departments to implement comprehensive college counseling curricula that begins in 9 th grade and guides students through all three stages of the college choice framework guiding this dissertation.