College-Going Culture (CGC) refers to the environment, attitudes, and practices in schools and communities that encourage students and families to obtain the information, tools, and perspective to enhance access to and success in post-secondary education.


  • As early as elementary school, students begin to learn about options for their futures and the education required for certain careers, with a specific focus starting in middle school.
  • Schools convey the expectation that all students can prepare for the opportunity to attend and be successful in post-secondary education.
  • Schools, families, and communities all reinforce the same message of high expectations for a student’s future.

Providing college access to our undocumented students is part of that fundamental commitment....Entitled, "You Belong Here" Watch this video about UC Berkeley celebrating the opening of the Robert D. Haas Undocumented Community Resource Center. This video showcases students’ powerful stories about their immigrant journeys and the value of community and belonging.


Professor Patricia McDonough of UCLA has identified nine critical interrelated elements that together help schools build and strengthen a college-going culture. These nine elements are:

  • College Talk
  • Clear Expectations
  • Information and Resources
  • Comprehensive Counseling Model
  • Testing and Curriculum
  • Faculty Involvement
  • Family Involvement
  • College Partnerships
  • Articulation


Step 1: Initiate a conversation with the school community and review the present college-going culture at the site.

It is important that everyone at the school site be aware of school-specific data on student achievement and college-going indicators, such as college prep course completion, universal access  to college entrance exams, FAFSA completion, and college-going rates.

Step 2: Assess and build college-going culture.

  • Inventory and assess present activities and challenges
  • Determine one to three of the nine college-going elements to work on
  • Establish a few goals for the year under each college-going element
  • Develop an action implementation plan for each goal

Remember: start with doable goals (for example, set up a college corner in every classroom)