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Getting ready for college: Assessing parents' understandings

Maria del Pilar Velasquez, Johnson & Wales University


The Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, commonly referred to as the Met School, is a state public high school located in Providence, Rhode Island, serving a diverse, urban student population and exhibiting school drop out risk factors typical of that population (American Council in Higher Education, 2001-2002). The Met School, however, has significantly higher than expected rates of graduation and college acceptance and persistence. This case study examined the perceptions of parents regarding the effectiveness of the Met School's college-transition programs and services targeted to reduce high school or college dropouts. The study employed in-depth interviews with parents of Met School students and alumni to address these research questions: (1) How do Met School parents' perceptions of college change during the four years their children attend the Met? (2) What Met School interventions do parents perceive as the most effective in helping their children gain college admission? (3) How has the Met School helped parents to support and encourage their children to remain in college? The case study employed one-on-one interviews in English or Spanish with a purposive sample of 23 parents of Met School students and alumni, sampled in three groups. In one-on-one interviews, parents described how the Met School's highly personalized educational approach made them a part of their child's successful education. Parents also identified the college knowledge they gained through the school, noted the information they perceived as helpful in the educational journey of their child, and outlined factors affecting college persistence of alumni. The results of this case study offer evaluative information for the Met School about its college-transition programs and services target students who are at-risk of dropping out of high school or college. The findings are informative for educational leaders about the success of the Met School's individualized student approach. The results also provide details about the process by which parents acquired college knowledge and offer information about ways the Met School can refine and expand existing services that enhance parents' knowledge about college. Finally, the results identify aspects of parental college knowledge that are suitable for examination in subsequent research.

Subject Area

Higher education|Secondary education|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Velasquez, Maria del Pilar, "Getting ready for college: Assessing parents' understandings" (2005). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3234447.