Beyond a "Labor of Love": Exploring the Experiences of College Advising Professions in Central Texas
Recent legislation and educational strategic plans within Texas strive to increase the rates of direct-high school-to-college enrollment; however, limited research exists on the professionals working in pre-college outreach, college advising professionals. A growing Latina/o/x population, coupled with their lagging college completion rates, creates a focus on Latina/o/x students and the ways college access professionals, support and/or affect their educational context and outcomes. Traditional models of college choice and access contribute to a deficit model of thinking about Latina/o/x students that are not enrolling in or completing college. This dissertation addresses gaps in the literature by exploring the practices of college access professionals within a P-20 framework. A phenomenological qualitative study conducted with eight participants in Central Texas revealed the essence of the college advising professional experience was found in the relationships created with students. This relationship is an integral component of the four themes found: the pervasive systems that permeate and affect their work, the personal motivation and passion behind this work, the unique space they operate in, and the student outreach performed. Validation theory is applied to make meaning out of the data and provide implications for creating a culturally relevant, college-going culture. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.