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Career and College Advice to the Forgotten Half: What do Counselors and Vocational Teachers Advise?

by Melinda Scott Krei & James E. Rosenbaum - 2001

This article examines the career and college advice that high school counselors and vocational teachers give to the “forgotten half,” students who are unlikely to seek a 4-year college degree. Using interview data from 12 Midwestern high schools, we found that most counselors tend to encourage all students to attend college, regardless of the students’ interests or plans. Vocational teachers, on the other hand, showed evidence of a more nuanced view of the need for college. We found that vocational teachers in our sample fit in to four broad categories in terms of their advice and opinions about college: the college-for-all advocates, who push college regardless of circumstances; the diplomats, who try subtly to tell students that their plans are unrealistic; the straightforward, who try to make sure that students have realistic information; and the hands-off, who disavow any role in helping students make future plans. After an examination of these approaches, we conclude with a discussion of the implications of the various approaches for guiding students’ choices.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 103 Number 5, 2001, p. 823-842
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10827, Date Accessed: 9/24/2021 5:48:47 PM

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About the Author
  • Melinda Krei
    Educational Research and Consulting
    E-mail Author
    MELINDA SCOTT KREI is an independent researcher and consultant. She is author of “Intensifying the Barriers: The Problem of Inequitable Teacher Allocation in Low-income Urban Schools” (Urban Education, 1998).
  • James Rosenbaum
    Northwestern University
    JAMES E ROSENBAUM is Professor of Sociology, Education, and Social Policy at Northwestern University. He is author of The Missing Link Between High School and Work: Career Pathways for the Forgotten Half (Russell Sage Foundation Press, forthcoming).
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