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Fieldnotes #2

Uninhibited's picture




  • I walked into my placement at about 12pm. At that point I waited about 15 minutes until my supervisor could receive me, I sat in the welcoming lobby.
  • I noticed that the walls of the office were painted with murals of a young boy with a diploma on his hand, the guy at the desk was a young African American boy (either a high school or college student)
  • As I waited, a woman who works at the office who I worked with before came in, we talked for a bit about our lives since we last saw each other and she took me to her desk to make schedule a meeting in which I could learn more about her current role
  • At that point my supervisor walked in, she walked me to her desk, asked me a couple of “get to know you questions” and then proceeded to tell me what she envisions as my role given the gaps that the office has at the moment. She tells me that she wants me to help them get “the lay of the land” of what college access resources Philadelphia high schools and organizations have. I’ll be visiting a different school in the city every Wednesday and meeting with guidance counselors to ask them questions about college access programming. We go over my schedule on the computer and then she shows me a list of the data that they do have. It’s a list of schools in Philadelphia alongside contact info. My research will hopefully add columns that detail which programs are offered by which school.
  • Like she had told me over email, we then proceeded to look for the address of the first school we’d be visiting. After finding it we were on our way. We took the train to get there.
  • At the school, the guidance counselor of 11th and 12th graders met us at the front desk. She is new to the school, and as we walked up to the third floor where office is located she began by telling us what her first year has been like.
  • In her office, my supervisor began by telling her about the different college access programs that the city offers.  The visit felt very much like a conversation in which all three of us asked question. It wasn’t until the end of the meeting however, that my supervisor told the guidance counselor that we were getting information on what college access resources schools have.  Below is the information I compiled from our visit:


Imagine High

  • High School is about 75 years old, but has been run by different organizations
  • About 160-70 students per class (year)
  • 100% African American. 80% firs-generation college student
  • 9thgraders have a “Careers” course, which does some college access stuff but mostly focuses on writing resumes, giving info to students on what careers require which training/degree etc.
    • Counselor thinks that computer skills and interviewing skills should be part of this class
  • All 10th Graders take the PSAT (mandatory) but counselor wants to make it available for both 10th and 11th graders, working on it making mandatory for both
  • What happens after they take the PSATs? Guidance counselor goes into counselors, gives them back their scores and goes over what they mean/how they compare in relation to everything else. Gives them code to access online college access resources on college board
  • School offers SAT Math and English for 10th and 11th graders, about 2 periods per year. About 100 students go through this course every year with about 20-25 in each class.
  • School offers AP classes, however, no student has ever gotten above a 3 in the test
  • To disseminate college access information guidance counselor goes into classrooms, tries to make a connection with the students, reminds them of important dates that are coming up etc.
    • Talks to them about scholarships, picking a college, etc. but it’s a lot of information/work for just one person.           
    • She has 4 computers in her office and encourages students to come fill out applications there
  • College holds a FAFSA night, which requires students who come to bring their parents. About 21 parents have sent paperwork to come to this workshop
  • Counselor would like hands-on help on teaching the students how to utilize a computer to do college research, apply online, do their FAFSA, register for the SATs et. A “visual” of how to go through the process themselves.
    • Would like this to be available for all 10th graders so by the time they’re in the 12th grade they already know how use it for those purposes
  • English teacher reviews college essays.


After the visit, my supervisor and I reflected on this interview. We talked about how she made the guidance feel comfortable and about how important it is for us to build relationships with them. I commented on how great it was that my supervisor didn’t just blurt out all of the college access resources the city offers right away. Instead, whenever the counselor talked about a gap or something they offered that related, my supervisor told her about whatever program fit. The guidance counselor responded very well to this.