Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Coaxum, James III


Low-income students; Student aspirations


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


Research has suggested higher education is the most prominent way to ensure mobility from one socioeconomic status to another (Siff, 2006). Just as important is the development of the educational aspirations of low socioeconomic status (SES) students; this is called the predisposition stage (Brown v. the Board of Education, 1954; Perna & Swail, 2001; Walpole, 2003; Wilt, 2006). While much has been written on the subject of higher education of low SES student, Hossler and Gallagher (1987) discuss a three-phase college choice model that precludes the higher education of low SES students. The predisposition stage, as the first stage is termed, involves the development of occupational and educational aspirations. The remaining stages, two and three, address the emergence of intentions to further education beyond high school. Hossler and Gallagher (1987) contend the predisposition stage has been the focus of the least amount of research as it is often a black box of psychological and sociological functions (Hossler, Schmitt, & Vesper, 1999). Walpole (2003) asserts students of low socioeconomic status (SES) have lower educational aspiration persistence rates and educational attainment than their peers from higher SES backgrounds. Our dependence upon schools to make a difference in the preparation of students for the future not only remains, but has increased as an expectation to address the national issue of college access and retention (Perna & Swail, 2001). Additionally, underrepresented students often attend schools that provide counselors; however, the ratio of counselor to students is 1:457 as identified by College Board Advocacy and Policy Center (2007-08). These students also tend to live in homes where the level of education reached by parents influences the ways in which they raise their children and seek to improve the education of their children (Economic Mobility Project, 2009). As a result, our low SES students inevitably exhibit the need for schools to provide resources that are lacking for their optimum growth. Most significantly, Arnove and Clements (2009) contend the failure of lower socioeconomic groups and ethnic minorities to succeed in school often resides in the mismatch between the expectations of state curricula and school personnel. The overview of the finds concludes that it is imperative that our low SES students are exposed to a curriculum tailored to increase their awareness of the attainability of higher education, connecting career choices through higher education or training, and making decisions on the types of higher education/training to pursue. The school is often expected to replace the typical role that parents should play when encouraging, advising, or ensuring the child has access to college (Tierney, Corwin, & Colyar, 2005). For some students, the dream of a college education is actualized through school personnel such as teachers, counselors, or administrators. Unfortunately, in many urban schools where students of low socioeconomic status possess the greatest need for this service, the ratio of student to counselors is 457:1 as identified by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center (2007-08). In an attempt to circumvent this disparity, developing a curriculum that can be implemented by any content area teacher has the potential to positively impact college/career aspirations and access for these students, as it increases the likelihood of their progression through the three stages of college choice (Hossler Gallagher, 1987). It also increases the adult to student ratio in the dissemination of vital information regarding higher education or training.