Creating a College-Going Culture in Arizona's Schools
An upcoming conference aimed at middle and high school counselors will address ways to help students think about college early and often.

By La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Communications
Oct. 10, 2007

The only college-educated people that children in some communities know are their school teachers and counselors.

That is why The University of Arizona Early Academic Outreach is holding a new type of conference, one that will teach counselors how to develop a college-going culture not only in high schools, but also in middle schools.

“Planning for college must start early. What they are doing in middle school is part of the foundation for college,” says Lori Tochihara, Early Academic Outreach director. “We want to impact the schools to reach every student.”

The program is an example of how the UA is trying to help remedy what has become a national challenge.

An information guide issued by the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis pointed out that research has found students “do not know who to approach with questions about college.”

The guide, “Creating Helping Environments for College-Going: The CHEPA CHEC-List for Counselors,” went on to say that students “frequently learn about college requirements late in their high school careers.”

Instead of focusing on college recruitment efforts, the Nov. 2 “College Knowledge for Counselors” will center on ways to encourage students, particularly those who are underperforming or who are from underserved communities, to go to college.

While counselors are the target audience, anyone may attend. Adrian Shelton, wife of UA President Robert N. Shelton, will provide opening remarks. Blas Guerrero, Regional Academic Initiatives director for the University of California system, is the lunch-hour speaker.

One hope is that counselors will leave with information and skills to help students begin to strive for a four-year degree earlier in life, Tochihara says.

The Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis also noted that research shows counselors “can powerfully affect students’ opportunities to receive the academic preparation and emotional support that leads to college eligibility.”

The UA’s first-time conference offers two tracks: one for counselors working with middle school students who are getting ready to move into high school and the second for those working with high school juniors and seniors.

Mary Frances M. Kuper, the UA's Early Academic Outreach coordinator, said emphasis must be placed on aiding low-income, first-generation and minority students. Students, she says, must have high expectations well before they reach college.

But counselors need help getting the message across.

“Counselors are incredibly busy professionals that have the daunting task of not only creating schedules for students and making sure that they are fulfilling all of their graduating requirements, but in many cases they are also charged with providing personal counseling, handling disciplinary issues, helping accommodate students with special needs, and more,” Kuper says.

“Knowing their time constraints, we are hoping to give counselors practical strategies to collaboratively engage the entire campus in creating a culture where students are informed, prepared, and confident in their potential to be successful in college,” she added.

The conference will cover issues related to admissions, financial aid, ways to build a 10-year career plan and also the implications of 2006 voter-approved Proposition 300, which, among other things, bars public institutions from providing in-state tuition to students who cannot prove their U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status.

Attendees also will learn how they can incorporate programs, face-to-face conversations with students, imagery and other messages about college while also getting parents involved in the college-going experience.

In addition, the half-day program will allow attendees to apply for grant to fund these types of programs in their respective schools.

Extra info


College Knowledge for Counselors


YWCA of Tucson's Frances McClelland Leadership Center, 525 N. Bonita Ave.


Nov. 2, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

To learn more about the conference or to register, call Mary Frances M. Kuper at 520-626-2300 or e-mail her at A $25 registration fee is required. 


Resources for the media

Lori Tochihara