Organizational contexts matter
High schools are viewed by policymakers, practitioners, and researchers alike as key institutions in facilitating access to college, especially for minoritized students from lowincome families. A school-wide strategy for making college accessible is for high schools to establish a college-going culture that normalizes college attendance, elevates it as an attainable postsecondary option, and provides the support and resource structure students need to complete the college application process. Prior research has demonstrated a positive relationship between college-going culture and college enrollment. However, this work has not considered the ways in which various elements combine to make a strong, effective college-going culture. Nor has this research examined the broader policy contexts in which schools and counselors establish a college-going culture. I draw from multiple bodies of literature to examine the ways in which state, district, and school contexts shape college-going culture and counselors' work. I utilize a multiple case study of four Greater New Orleans charter and traditional public high schools. This included semi-structured interviews with school leaders, counselors, teachers, and teacher leaders, observations, and an analysis of data from documents, websites, and social media posts. Louisiana provided a critical context to examine these dynamics as one of the first states to enact policy changes and direct resources toward college readiness and access. I found that the availability of college practices/resources alone did not comprise a strong college-going culture. While all schools had numerous college-going supports, due in large part to Louisiana’s policies, schools differed in the strength of their college-going cultures due to the influence of many overlapping organizational factors. Furthermore, counselors' ability to support students with the college process was shaped by the school, district-level, and state contexts determining their roles and the structure, resources, and college counseling norms they implemented in schools. As a result, counselors faced role conflict and role incongruity from the interaction of these contexts. This hindered their ability to provide direct college support to students. Case study findings illustrate the importance of cohesion within and among the various elements of college-going culture and among the contexts shaping school-wide college-going support and counselors' work.