Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Higher and Adult Education


Higher Education

Committee Chair

Jeff Wilson

Committee Member

Donna Menke

Committee Member

Lamont Simmons

Committee Member

Colton Cockrum


The counseling profession within the context of secondary education stands at a crossroads in terms of understand how the field is able to effectively prepare students for college and career readiness (Bain 2012). Student to counselor ratios, varied job roles, external and parental influences and a variety of other factors make the function of preparing students for college difficult. Research questions were developed for this study with the micro and macro perspectives of the school counselor and operational space of their job in mind. Respondents in this study were asked a series of in-depth, phenomenologically founded interview questions which had the purpose of developing a rich description of the counseling environment. Additionally, this work focused on how they (counselors) develop college readiness programming, and how their intrinsic understanding of how effective they feel they are in preparing students for college and ultimately how they find meaning within their own position. There were also multiple opportunities within the schools to observe programming at each school site to conduct non-participant observations and take extensive field notes. These notes helped to describe the varied aspects of the school counseling environment and the varied strategies counselors used in order to meet the needs of their students, teachers and administrators. From their responses and the acquired field notes - four major themes developed which describe the lived and shared experiences of the rural secondary education counselor - role ambiguity, testing, counselor community and connectivity. This study also describes the various influences, implications, suggestions for future research and an overall analysis of the factors which go into understanding diverse rural school systems. The final section also discusses the impact that socio-economic status and state and federal budget cuts have on preparing students for college and career readiness as well as the difficult position it places on counselors to complete the task of preparing students for college. Tables were also included in this work which show the qualitative methods that were utilized in order to capture phenomenologically rich and appropriate data from the six participants involved in this study.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.