School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Todd Shultz


undocumented youth, equity, school counseling, college access


Counseling | Education


This phenomenological study examines what school counseling means to undocumented students attempting equitable college access. Critical Race Theory is the theoretical basis guiding this study. Much literature on undocumented youth and educational attainment suggests undocumented youth are not receiving an equitable public education and continue falling further into society's margins. However, research has not yet captured how undocumented youth experience college access from their school counselors. The gap in the research elucidates the research questions that drove this study regarding how undocumented students explain the meaning of equitable college access from their interactions with school counselors and how undocumented youth describe the helpfulness of their school counselors in achieving college access. A qualitative design created a platform for participants to use their experiences in educational research by employing semi-structured interviews to collect qualitative data. Eight participants, ages 18-28, engaged in the research process, which included interviews regarding their experiences as undocumented students in high school attempting to receive equitable college access and member checking. Qualitative data was transcribed, coded, and organized into categories and themes in response to the two research questions. Six themes resulted from the process of data analysis. The findings indicate that undocumented students view school counselors as positive people in the school building striving to help students achieve academic success, yet encounter several obstacles that interfere with equitable service delivery. These findings contribute to the ongoing research aiming to understand how undocumented youth experience educational attainment and contribute to the profession and research on school counseling.