Unedited Session Transcript

"College Should be a Place that will Change My Life" Perspectives of 10 High School Seniors who are Deaf from the Pacific Northwest

Julia Smith, Hank Bersani, & Rosalee Gallimore


SPEAKER X: Okay. I wanted to give you guys a quick announcement you should all have evaluation forms. If you don't have them let me know and I'll be collecting them in the back after the session. Also if you need an assistive listening device, let me know, and we'll get that set up for you and if you have any questions, let me know.

SPEAKER 2: We're going to be putting quotes up there and let the people in the audience read the quotes themselves. But please let us know if anyone would like to have us read the quotes allowed as we go along. Okay. Welcome. We're here to talk about college readiness, perceptions of high school seniors as they prepare to go to college. I'm curious, how many people in here are educators? Oh, good. Good. Secondary educators, people who are in high schools? College? Okay. This is after the fact. How about rehab counselors? Other? What else? The other is.

SPEAKER 3: Job development.

SPEAKER 2: Job development.

SPEAKER 3: Interpreter.

SPEAKER 2: Interpreters.

SPEAKER 3: DSS coordinator.

SPEAKER 2: Disabled student services coordinator. So maybe you can be thinking about students you have worked with in the past who were seniors in high school getting ready to go to college. So as we talk you can apply it to someone you know. And if you don't have a lot of experience with that age group maybe you can remember yourselves when you were in high school thinking about going to college and what that transition was like for you. So we're wanting you to kind of apply some personal experience to the things that we talk about this morning. And I do want to introduce who I am. My name is Julia Smith and I'm an instructor in the rehab counselor deafness program at western Oregon University I've worked there many years and I'll let my team introduce themselves.

SPEAKER 3: Hello everyone my name is Rosa Lee gal more and I'm a student at western Oregon University. Soon to graduate this coming June and I've done research with my colleagues here.

SPEAKER X: My name is Hank Bersani and I'm the chair of the special education depth at western Oregon University and I'm the other person on the team.

SPEAKER 2: Okay. Let's go ahead. It's yours.

SPEAKER X: Okay. We'll try that again. I'm just going to briefly tell you about what we've set out to do here with our abstract. We were all interested in high school students leaving high school and going to college and so we sought out volunteers from local programs, we all work in mon moth Oregon, not known as a large deaf community, but in the Washington, Vancouver area. Looking for deaf high school seniors who would volunteer to be interviewed by rose Lee, and then we transcribed those interviews and analyzed them together as a team. And we would like to report on what we found interesting. Not sure that we have any absolute conclusions to draw based on what we've done so far. But we think some students had some important things to tell us that we would like to share with all of you. .

SPEAKER 3: I don't know where sight lines would be best I guess I'll stand here. The three of us met.

SPEAKER 2: Do you need to find a place to sit? Okay. That will do.

SPEAKER 3: The three of us talked about ways that we could get 10 seniors, and we did indeed contact them from a number of facilities, one of which is the Oregon school for the deaf, and the Washington school for the deaf, a couple of mainstream programs, Cleveland High School in Portland and from Sprague in Salem. And from those populations we got our sample. And we really want to thank them for allowing us to study their students.

SPEAKER 2: The-there is-there is a lot of information out there on retention. As you know, in the colleges there's a huge push at the freshman year of college for-to keep students involved in school, because they feel if you can get past that freshman year, there's more chance that you're going to be able to continue through college. But I'll tell you the numbers aren't great. Even with these programs that have been set up to keep students in college, to get them attached. In fact, as you can see, there are-well let's go to this. Deaf students drop out at the rate of 75 percent in the first year of college. That is a huge number and a huge concern. There are about 20,000 deaf and hard of hearing students in postsecondary programs in the United States. Most of those students go to Gallaudet, NTID, and California State Northridge that's where the largest number of students go. But those are only three institutions. And actually the deaf and hard of hearing students are in 2360 institutions across the United States. So there are lots and lots of colleges that provide services or where students choose to go. But the students aren't staying. The students are having a hard time staying in school. And what are the reasons-wait wait let me go back for a second. Because I wanted to compare to the hearing students. Hearing students don't do that good either. There is between 35 to 58 percent that drop out in their first year of college I'm sorry, during all four years of college much and the reason this goes 35 to 58 is it's looking at a two year institution and a four year institution. So students tend to drop out, there's a higher rate of dropout in a two year institution than a four year institution, which I think is kind of interesting. And the other part that's important and I think it's important for educators as well as rehab folks, is the earlier a student decides, chooses their educational goals, there is more chance that they'll be successful and stay in college much so those students who decide at the last minute, yeah, I think I'll go to college they're not very well prepared and oftentimes they are ones that are part of that high dropout statistic. So starting early is really important. Okay. So what we found were three important do mains to college readiness. And those are-it's kind of difficult to see this but it says academic, social and emotional. And later in our quotes, the quotes we got directly from the students, we're going to be identifying which domain they relate to. So you'll see A for academic, S for social, and E for emotional. Now academic readiness. What's academic readiness? Of course grades. SAT, ACT scores. Academic, scholastic performance in high school. But there's other things that they consider in academic readiness. Commitment to the college. Huge impact on whether student stays in school or not is how committed they are to that institution. What else goes with academic readiness? Commitment to college. How well-how well they thought out where they're going to go. What career goals they have and their purpose then for choosing that college. All those things play into an academic readiness which is to say that the students more than likely will do pretty well in school. Social readiness. Social readiness has to do with the ability to make friends. Most research says: If you're okay academically and you make a good network of friends you're going to stay in school. So social connectedness is really important. If a high school senior is pretty isolated, hasn't had very much success in making friends or keeping friends, knowing how to problem solve when there is issues that come up with friends, more than likely they're going to have more trouble in college. Emotional readiness. Emotional readiness refers to the o more the personal readiness, you know. Oftentimes high school students don't want to talk about this too much that they're going to experience any homesickness. But the reality is-I worked for several years at Western's counseling center where I counseled with a lot of the freshmen students. There was lots of homesickness that first year, lots of it. Now, how do you prepare Jr.'s and seniors for leaving home? How do you begin talking about those things so that they are emotionally ready to go into a into college as a freshman and deal with some of that homesickness but it's not so overwhelming that they have to drop out and go back home? So those are some of the things when we talk to our students, the ten students, that we try to identify. Does this show that they're going to be emotional ly ready for college? Does this show that they'll be socially ready, academically ready? Okay. These are our research questions. We first wand to know: How do students think about college? How do they think about it? We definitely talked to transition counselors, career counselors. Of course they're going onto college but how do the students think about it? What do the students have to say about their own academic, social, emotional readiness? And we wand to see if there was any difference between residential schools-students from residential schools and students from mainstream schools. You know, I don't know if you can see it on that slide very well what we just looked up but-it's hard to see. Residential is in red on the screen and inclusion or mainstream is in blue. And as you see later, the quotes that we got from the students that were interviewed we tried to put them in red and in blue to show: Was that ha student from a residential school or a student from a mainstream school? Because I think that's kind of interesting to have that information when you look at their quotes. So if you can't see it very well we'll let you know where they're from. Okay. So this is what we did. The three-it was really wonderful for the three of us to work together to have the chair of the division and then a faculty member and a graduate student work together. So we really-we had three different perspectives and it was really fun kind of coming together and talking about: Well well, what is it we want to ask? So we started with generating our list of questions. And then for those of you who work in universities probably know, you have to get what's called IRB approval, institutional review board. That means if we're going to talk to people, we're going to research people, we have to have an okay from the higher-ups in the institution, so that we're not asking anything that's dangerous or hurtful. And so we did that. And of course they approved our study. Then next we went and talked to the-the different schools in our area and got permission. They said sure, that's something you can do is come in and talk to our students. And we began our recruiting of students from both residential and mainstream programs. And Rosalee you've got the other parts of the methods.

SPEAKER 4: All right. We approached the students with a form, and that was a permission form for video taping our interview. Also the interviewer, which was me, sat down with the students and posed some questions to them which we had developed, and their answers were captured on videotape. Once we had a videotape, we transcribed an interpretation of it into written English, which was quite an arduous process at times due to the differences in languages. I mean sometimes I couldn't come up with an English equivalent for something I saw, and they would assist me in that. And I would make sure that that expression of the interviewee was captured faithfully. And we got together with the materials and we came up with some overarching themes which had emerged. And we talked about those and sort of pulled them out, and took a good hard look at them. Now, of the ten, you might very well like to know the demographics of that. They were aged 17 to 19, six were women and four were men. From WSD we had four represented, from OSD we had another four, from Cleveland one and the other mainstream setting, Sprague, another one. So we have eight residential backgrounds and two mainstream backgrounds represented in our example. And I'll let you read through this graphic. And where they were headed: Toward college.

SPEAKER X: Whoops! There we go. Okay.

SPEAKER 4: Also we asked them their birth order, whether they were eldest or youngest, what have you. And we saw that there were 6 eldest or only children, 2 middle children and two youngest. And I wondered actually who their role models were, if they had older brothers or sisters that went to college and they wanted to follow in their footsteps. And maybe a middle child wanted to go to school and I wanted to know who their role model was. If everybody in the family did or didn't go to college. My question was where they got that notion from. And this is our-this represents the question that we did ask them: Whether or not they had deaf parents. We see here. And whether or not they had deaf brothers and sisters, and whether or not they had none of those. So there are three from hearing parents-you know what that's backwards. There were 7 from hearing parents and three from deaf parents in their families. And for the similar reason we asked here whether or not they had older siblings and whether or not those older siblings attended college, as I mentioned. Of the ten, only three had parents who entered college. Whether or not they actually graduated with a degree or whether that was at a University or a master's level maybe or a Community College level had no bearing but we just categorized them that way. And 7 of our participants, their parents did not attend college.

SPEAKER X: Okay. So we started with ten folks, more from residential school than we hoped. We hoped for a better blend. I was surprised by how many of them did not have deaf parents, although it matches up with the national statistics. And we got a decent blend of young men and young women. So one of the first questions that Rosalee asked them all was: How did high school prepare you for college? And what advice or suggestions do you have tore high school staff? We told them we would be doing a presentation like this or writing about this and we said what should people know about what you've been thinking about? And some of these quotes are longer than others. This is in red. It's from one of the students from residential school, as most of them are, given who we ended up W said: I don't like the short amount of time we were given to do college preparation. And you can read the rest and people have it on the handout. But one of the themes that several people mentioned is how late in their high school career the idea of college was introduced. Now they don't have anything to compare it to with hearing students but one of the recurring themes was the deaf students said they thought that college got brought up fairly late in their academic careers. We need more exposure to college, another residential school student. Student from a mainstream program said: I suggest you visit several colleges during the summer, gave some practical advice. And by the way, since we're doing this in the Northwest and all of our students were from Oregon and Washington, we've worked really hard to have it not be obvious who the students are. You know, it's very likely that one of their guidance counselors or interpreters is here and we wanted them to be really confident telling us what they thought. And by being pretty careful with how we selected the quotes, we think that it may not be-if you think you know who it is, you know, there's a reasonable chance you're wrong. Okay? Because I'm always worried about telling a room of professionals about what students have said about them recently.


SPEAKER 2: And you might want to mention that these are all things that are academically-

SPEAKER X: Right. This is in the on your handout: The AS and E. Whether in our judgment this is a statement about their academic readiness, or their emotional readiness. And so teachers give us the easy stuff: I want more challenge. The residential school student said that and we quoted that as being an academic concern. Down here ha student from a mainstream school said hi school should offer classes that will lead us to career choices. We also thought that was an educational concern that they were raising. Wish teachers would give us more challenging homework. That's an academic concern again that came from a student from a residential program. Several students comparing to the real world. And we'll talk at the end about how we would do this differently next time or how we will do it differently with a larger sample. But when real world came up, especially with the residential school students, I'm not real clear whether real world is outside of the residential school or outside of high school. And in retrospect, I would really like to clarify that a bit more.

JULIA SMITH: Hank, I don't know how to get rid of this.

SPEAKER X: But several comments about the real world and people saying they were not prepared for the real world, just not sure what the real word is from what we have. Those from the deaf school, this is an interesting comment. If you're in a deaf school I suggest you go to the mainstream for a while, if you're in the mainstream, I suggest you go to a deaf school for a while, student. And we also considered that an academic concern. And then the next question is Julia's.

SPEAKER X: I'll do the dance of the cords here.


SPEAKER 4: I also wanted to add this comment about real world. You know the residential school has its own system which is distinct from that of the mainstream school. There were supervisors there after hours. The students don't go home and there are rules in the dormitory. So oftentimes when they talk about the real world they mean outside of this system. They may not know how to take a bus to different places. They may not go out to restaurants. They may not stop for coffee on the way home. And so the residential students sometimes feel trapped inside the institutional and the institutional system. So that's what I would really understand as the real world is outside this institutional system.

JULIA SMITH: I think that's a very important point. Our-the two students we had from the mainstream interviews did not mention that, but several students in the residential schools did, and that was one of our questions that we'll be coming to is: What's one of the things that scares you most about college? What do you fear the most? And some of that was: Will I be successful? Can I be independent? And the conflict between being in the residential school and having lots of supervision versus being mainstream. But then there was pros and cons. Because a lot of the social confidence that the students had in the residential schools that: Oh yeah I'll be able to make friends in college, no problem-was different than the concerns the students in the mainstream had. So there was that plus and minus. And we don't have this quote but there was a student who had purposefully-she had been a mainstream student, but early on she knew she wand to go to Gallaudet. And so the last two years of high school she worked it out with her parents and H her teachers in the district that she would go to the school for the deaf, the residential school for her Jr. And Sr. Year for the purpose of interacting with more deaf kids. I mean talk about academic preparedness. She's more than likely going to do really well in school because she's been so thoughtful about this process so I thought that was interesting. But we did want to ask: Where do you get support? Because again if people know where they get support in their lives, they know how-right now, they know how to go and develop support. So we thought that was an important question. And said both in the mainstream and the residential, students said: My parents are very supportive of me. Very supportive of me. In a mainstream program there was more mention of the guidance counselors, and how the guidance counselors helped the students prepare for college. In the residential school there was more comments regarding getting ideas about college from their friends, from students who have graduated and come back, from teacher assistance that are in the schools that they had talked to. But not as much discussion of college from parents or from their guidance counselors. And I don't know if that's accurate but this is what the students reported to us just from the ten students.

SPEAKER X: The other thing that's important to remember they talked about feeling a lot of support. These are students who are going to college. We didn't ask the students who didn't go to college, did they have a sense of support. Because for this small project we only talked to folks who did have plans to go to college.

JULIA SMITH: When the parents-when the students talked about the parents' support, they said that the patients really encouraged them, they wanted them to go and be successful in college. I thought that-and this was a quote that was pretty universal when they talked about success in college, support for college.


JULIA SMITH: A lot of first generation college students, a lot, you know, that's one of the things we'll talk about in the end here, but that 7 out of 10 of these parents, the students parents, had not gone to college themselves. I mean, I think that's a huge number today. And yet that they were getting lots of support, lots of encouragement from the parents. We also thought to be successful that students need to know about VR, they need to know about SSI. And most students did know about VR and SSI. We had one student from a mainstream program that didn't know anything.

SPEAKER 4: Right. Right. In Cleveland High School the girl said that-we asked her if she knew what VR meant. She said well she heard of it but it had a very negative connotation to it. It felt like you were using things to-you know, in an inappropriate way. She wanted to be independent, to do things on her own. So that is what VR meant to her.

JULIA SMITH: Yeah. And some knew about SSI and VR but were hesitant. And we'll have some quotes on that here. So what did you know? You know, there have been some studies that look at SSI dependency and success in college, and I don't have the numbers for you, but it wasn't good. The students who wanted to get off SSI tended to be more successful in college. That-their goal was to get off of SSI. For those who became, you know, started using SSI in high school, tended to know go onto college or not stay in college. And I'm sorry I don't have the numbers for you but I remember reading that. So there's pros and cons about VR from these seniors in high school. They had mixed feelings about it. Mike.

SPEAKER 3: The statistic on just the helpful pieces that a little over 75 percent of people on SSI or Social Security disability in high school retain it throughout their life.

JULIA SMITH: Thank you.

SPEAKER 3: I was on the Social Security committee last year and that was one of the things we discussed. JULIA SMITH: I think that's really important information so thank you for that, Mike. Again, there is a consciousness in these students, saying: I don't want to be too dependent on VR. I know that VR may be helpful to me. But, you know, I think that a lot of these students really didn't understand VR and were listing about stories that happened to other people versus talking directly with the VR counselors to find out what's possible, how can we work together, how can you support me? It's going to be my job as I go through college with the help of VR. And then we had other people, here is somebody who is in a mainstream program, who said: I've interviewed with VR, we've got a working relationship, it's going to go well. And we saw that these kinds of-this ability to go out and talk to VR people and get those things going, we saw that as social readiness: Ability to network, maneuver socially in the world. So we saw that as the social domain. Again kind of-this-it was a little negative, you know: Too many meetings. And then still looking for the possibility that I'll get some help going to Gallaudet.

SPEAKER 4: Excuse me, Julia. I would like to add something, if you don't mind.

JULIA SMITH: Oh, you. Who is speaking?

SPEAKER 4: If we look at what the ten students said we'll notice that the preponderance were negative about VR. There were tasks that weren't productive, they had to have so many meetings, there were misunderstandings, they felt VR was resistive and didn't really want to help. So we talked about: What does this say about VR services? Are the VR services not good? Or do they just not understand the purpose of VR and they just think of it as a source of money. And why should I go to all these meetings to get some free money? I told them I want to go to college. Why don't they just help me go to college? I don't think they understand. They don't have the exposure. It's not just a matter of free money, but that VR is here to help you own your own future rather than just do something for you. So if the students can have a sense of ownership of VR services, that these are my services to help me in my career in my life. Ah. Okay. My turn. So one of the things we were interested in-technology? Are we having technical difficulties? The microphone. Ah. Okay. We wanted to ask how they those-how they decided to go and chose a particular college. Who had given them the tools to make those independent decisions to decide where to go and what to study? And these were some of the quotes. This is a mainstream person on the top who says NTID has a good reputation. I want to graduate from RIT. And the student from the residential school says: My fiancee wants to go there so I'll have to go there. She wanted to go to a residential college, Montana State University, where her fiancee was going, and she didn't know anything about the college except that her fiancee was going there. JULIA SMITH: So again the first one is so- shows academic readiness, commitment to the university that they are going to excitement about it. This university has- NTID has a great reputation. I want to say that I graduated from there. The next one, you know: I'm going to the university because my fiancee is going to the university. I don't know. You know, we put it down as an academic readiness question. But what might the outcome be? And it's also social, yeah, absolutely. And there's a lot of overlap as you'll see in these quotes.

SPEAKER 4: I would like to emphasize also- that's okay -- that she had chosen that she had NTID and RIT, she felt this matched her career goals and it increased her motivation to go there it wasn't just the college and its reputation but it was a real match according to the research she had done. The student says that they had the goal of going to Gallaudet because during their Jr. And Sr. Year they wanted to get ready to go to Gallaudet. This is the student that went to residential school to develop sign language and so on to be ready to go to Gallaudet, to enter the deaf world. So this student was very definite, excited about this choice. And it was more of a social choice. She was academically ready, but interested in the social opportunities that Gallaudet offered. The first student from a residential school said that they had been thinking about and contacting Gallaudet since they were in 6th grade. VR goal oriented as at a very young age, very motivated. And this student's parents had not gone to college. So it seemed the student wanted to prove to their parents that they were going to achieve, that they were not going to fail, that they were going to be successful, and had started at a very young age to have this goal orientation. The second person was interested in athletics. They had been involved in sports, in school, and they felt held back in the mainstream program much so that's what they were looking forward to. They had been a good player and they wanted to- they thought that Gallaudet would offer more opportunity as a residential school offered more opportunity for participation in sports. JULIA SMITH: Okay. So we wand to know: What kinds of things scare you the most?

HANK BERSANI: We're not getting you on the Mike.

JULIA SMITH: So some of the things that- because I think that's important, even asking those questions in preparing us-when students think about going to college they have a lot of mixed emotions but they may not have been asked: What is it that scares you the most about going to college? So we asked. Okay. Probably many of us can identify with all of these. We coded these as emotional readiness. The ability to be responsible for myself. Am I going to-am I going to have enough money? You know. Good. Good that they're thinking of that. That's an important thing to be thinking about. Versus: I know my husband works at Chemeketa Community College and he had a student from a residential school come in and ask if the food was free at the Community College. Well, there hadn't been a lot of exposure obviously to what's happening out in the quote-unquote real world. So when we see students saying: I'm wondering if I'm going to be able to be financially responsible, that's a good thing. And this is somebody that's probably, if they're thinking about it now, may have more success in school because they're problem solving, they're trying to figure out how will they handle this& then of course graduating from high school, I'm not taking a break, I'm going back into college. Will I have that inner drive to continue? Because I know it will be challenging. This was a quote in blue was a quote from a mainstream student: My worst fear is going into a class, and this student was going to a mainstream college. My worst fear is going into the classroom and there's not going to be an interpreter there. And so-and some of the things we talked about is: Do you know about disabled student services. Do you know how to access those services? Some did, some didn't. But that's a real important part of a successful transition.

SPEAKER 4: If I may. Yeah, you know, one fear of having no interpreter present was due to-well it seemed like, you know, obviously communication is very important in a college setting and it means their access, if they're sitting there, it will be a source of embarrassment if there is no interpreter present and in a college setting in a large classroom maybe in an auditorium even they will be humiliated. And they were concerned that would be afforded them. Rather than the experience in a school for the deaf. And their fears, if they were in the bank, in the classroom or anywhere, it's very much of a difference. Because communication was a given at the School for the Deaf, whereas in the real world, this student is also concerned about getting services out in the community, in banks, and so forth. I'm giving the interpreter a hard time. That's not what I said.

JULIA SMITH: The wrong workshop. I thought this was a real interesting quote. Mainstream student. Parents had never gone to college. Was the oldest in the family. She was going to go to college and she was going to come home and teach her younger sibling who was hearing, about college. So a neat thing to see. I like that.

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: If I may again add: The younger sister is deaf.

JULIA SMITH: Thank you.

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: The older-this person has an older sister who was deaf and they wanted to be a role model and be a success for her.

JULIA SMITH: Both residential schools much. Social readiness. How am I going to problem solve the freedom? How am I going to negotiate this freedom of having choices? All these fun choices that happen when you're in college. And experimentation that happens. But kind of a neat thing to see is I'm recognizing that I'm not sure: How am I going to handle that? So even beginning to think about that can impact a student's success. And this we coded an emotional readiness, dealing with the homesickness. What's it going to be like for me to be disconnected from my family? How am I going to do that? What will it feel like? The is.

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: First of all this first one said that they were concerned about the wrong crowd and drugs and alcohol. And this person has a history in their family of losing parents due to overdoses and they have a lot of issues around drugs and alcohol. So they had an anxiety about that. And they wanted to explore their personal growth. At the same time, they didn't want to follow in the pattern of their parents and fail at that. And they felt that perhaps they were not ready for that, emotional ly ready for that.

JULIA SMITH: And you're next.

HANK BERSANI: So the next set of comments followed around the idea of: What's the best thing that could happen at college? But since it's my turn now I just want to back up a little bit on those other ones of the worst that could happen. A lot of comments are about not being socially ready or it's a big challenge. I was also fascinated about what's not there. Rosalee gave us pages and pages of transcripts of these ten interviews, hours and hours of stuff, and I'm looking through it, and nobody said: I'm not smart enough to go to college. Nobody said I don't know enough chemistry or English. Maybe they've got those fears and are saying it in other ways. But nobody talked about feeling academic weakness. It was social, emotional, missing family. And again these are all folks that are committed to going to college, which may be different than other high school transition age groups. So then in terms of what was the best thing that would happen, what were they excited about going to college? The best thing would be independence, live out on my own o yes a question.

SPEAKER 3: Was the academics ever an issue with these students were they strong A, B students do you know the GPA of these students?

HANK BERSANI: We didn't ask. The question is: Were the academics an issue, did they have strong GPAs? All we knew is by their own self-report they were going to college. We didn't look at their high school transcripts at all. And the closest we came, we tried to not guide them to the answers we were after, so we asked a couple different ways this question of what could go wrong or what kind of support do you have or how do you feel? And again a lot of concern about not knowing about college early enough. But I didn't get that sense of not feeling academically prepared from these ten folks. Exciting, one from a mainstream school: I'll be independent and learn to live on my own. Another: It is cool to go to college after high school. It is time for me to leave here. Be financially successful I've got to go to college. Meet new people. Again these are mostly comments from students in residential programs. Best thing is: Getting involved with a lot of new friends. College will lead me to what I want to do in the future. So maybe not that I know right now but at least will lead me to what I want to do in the future. Student from a mainstream school. You limit yourself in high school but in college there is no limit. And I want to show my family that ha deaf person can be successful in college. Looking at 7 out of ten of these folks are the first person in their family to go to college. So the first kid, the oldest kid, first person in the family going to college, and oh, yeah, they're deaf and a lot of them, they've got something to prove, they're going to show something. That was the theme of many of the students. Do I have one more there or is that it? Yes, this is a quote that we picked for the title. And this jumped off the page when we were reading the transcripts: College should be a place that will change my life. And that just said it all to me about academic, socially, emotionally, that it really is the next step for these students. And I think it really is the way other high school students think about it. But preparing for the way these next four years will change your life, it's a very exciting concept.

JULIA SMITH: Okay. Another question was: What opportunities do you expect to get from college? How is college going to benefit you? This is good, a mainstream student says: Interpreters should be available. If I go to college they should have interpreters. So maybe some basic knowledge of their rights, the ADA, that those services are supposed to be provided. A great second quote: The ambivalence. The ambivalence is like: Well, yeah, I know I'm going out on my own, but I kind of hope that I don't have to be totally independent, I hope that I get some support. What a wise statement to get. Now, would our children say that to us as parents? Maybe not. But Rosalee was a perfect interviewer and comfortable, and developed a great rapport with these students. And so here comes this very honest statement from a student of: Well, yeah, I know I'm supposed to want to be independent and be moving out and being on my own, but I don't want to be independent all the time. You know, where is that balance? Which I love. So you know, students were already receiving money to go to college. What they hoped to do in college is become a cheerleader. And this was a male.


JULIA SMITH: It was a male, yeah, and wanted to be a cheerleader. You know, and who knows? The opportunities that are available in college are incredible. So-and then again, seeing that the-the academic readiness, saying: I've already necked into NTID, the possibility of it providing a career for me, preparing me for a career, is really great, and we'll definitely take advantage of that. So a student who looked into a mainstream program was seeing that this-this college has good services. I'm going to be successful there because they've got good interpreting services. Knowing how important that's going to be in a mainstream program. And this is somebody from a residential school who had thought about that. And again a student-I believe this last student- Rosalee knows these transcripts so well. This quote came from a residential student who is going to a-I believe it was Gallaudet, if I remember.

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: Yes, Gallaudet, right.

JULIA SMITH: But I can participate in everything. Which was-you know, what an important concept, and which all students should be able to look forward to when going to colleges: I can participate in everything that's there. I get to choose once I'm there. ROSALEE GALLIMORE: And I would like to add to that. Maybe some of you from CSUN are wondering why CSUN hasn't been mentioned. We keep going back and forth. Is this upsetting? Not fair. Okay. Actually, several students said they wanted to go to CSUN, but the deadline for the interview was in may and the deadline for going into CSUN was before that, it was the previous October. So many of the students who were thinking about going to college in January or February and mad ly filled out their applications in March then found out that the deadline for applying to CSUN had been the previous fall and so that was no longer a possibility. So at this point they were looking at either NTID or Gallaudet. So indeed these were students who were not prepared enough, they were waiting until their senior year and were talking about VR and SSI and college applications and all of the things that had to happen in their senior year. So it would be good if there was some preparation in their sophomore and junior year so they could have these things in line and ready to go. But that is why CSUN is not mentioned here. So I hope that is clear. You have a question in the back?

SPEAKER 3: Yeah. First I'm surprised that guidance counselors or teachers wouldn't know CSUN's deadline and get those students ready a year or two in advance. So I think that's sad. I wouldn't expect the students to know that without getting some kind of information from the people who work at their schools. Secondly, I used to work at Gallaudet for a lot of years and I work at a Community College now, and unfortunately you are talking about-the gentleman was talking about academic preparedness and the students felt academically prepared to go to colleges. Sadly, the colleges don't require really high reading and writing skills to get in. So unfortunately the students really wouldn't have to worry very much about being academically prepared, because the colleges don't really require a high level of reading and writing. And a lot of community colleges have open enrollment. So the fact that even if they wanted to go to NTID and Gallaudet, those colleges don't really require high reading and writing levels either, and I think that's sad. But that's not a reflection on you or me.

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: Okay. I would like to respond to that. We did present here at the WSD, when was that? In the fall. And some of the teachers or leaders, guidance counselors there said that they had indeed talked to the students but that the students were not receptive they just weren't listening they didn't want to hear about it at that point and they weren't interested and ready to absorb the information until later and then they say why didn't you tell me? But in fact they had been told. So it wasn't that they were not giving the information to the students but it was also the preparedness of the students they are not ready to start thinking about it often until their senior year. So NTID, I know they had a prep year before people went to their freshman year [increased their standards] so those standards are being raised now. It's not something you can just brush aside. And then we have the question of what to do with the students who are not qualified and don't meet those standards?

JULIA SMITH: And I was just going to add that some other students that I interviewed for a project that was not this study talked-two different students talked extensively about that Gallaudet was the backup plan, that if I can get in-you know, NTID has a higher requirement rate, requirements than Gallaudet. So NTID is where I really want to go, and if I don't get into NTID then I've got Gallaudet backing me up. And I don't know if that's a positive thing or not but I thought that was interesting. . ROSALEE GALLIMORE: Are there any questions before I-I'm-yes?

SPEAKER 3: I would like to know about the classes, how the students select the college. Except for one student who said that they had chosen NTID because it matched their career. But most of the students, it seems, pick a college because of the career, they want to become a teacher or they want to become a social worker. But I don't see that in the answers that you're telling us.

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: Yes, that's true, you're right. You're right, that's another issue it's a theme that we've seen throughout the answers. Since we interviewed 8 students at the residential schools and two from mainstream schools, it seems that social motivations were primary. People wanted to meet-the students want to meet new people they were interested in college life they were interested in becoming independent. They weren't really thinking of college as a steppingstone to a career. That didn't come up in the way they conceptualized college. .

SPEAKER 3: I just wanted to say that if any of u you are interested I did my dissertation on the college choice process on students that are deaf and hard of hearing. I did a national online search. So after the workshop if you want to give me your card I would be happy to email it to you.

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: Cool. Great! Okay. So our next question is: Is deaf culture important to you I. I felt this is an important question because it tells us something about the identity of a person, where they feel they belong, where they feel they stand and how that affects their choices of college. What their values are, of course, influence their future choices. So we wanted to ask the students where they identified, where they stood in terms of hearing and deaf things. These are some of the answers. This is a person from a residential school. They said: Well, I'm deaf, so I should go to a deaf college. There is no thinking about it, no ifs, ands or buts. It's an automatic decision. Another seed we planted is that deaf culture had has a different meaning for different people. And so we wanted to know, by asking this term, what their perspectives were on the meanings of these terms. So we got one response that said: Of ah, the language is cool, there's lots of facial expression. I like that.

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: 75 percent important to me, isn't that- This is a student from the residential school who was somewhat ambivalent because as a deaf person from a deaf family they felt that the residential school had been a strong influence on them, and they were definitely a person of deaf culture. And by looking at their body language you could detect some ambivalence. And we wanted to be sure that they were telling us the truth. And so when we checked it out the person said, well, 75 percent. But at the same time I do like to talk. I like to communicate with my family. But they did say that they did come out with the truth. But they were very aware of the need and talked about why they cherished deaf culture and the language was because of the visual nature of the language and they didn't want to totally exclude participation in the hearing world. This is a man of few words. [Laughter.] Is deaf culture important to you? The answer was: Of course. I asked why. The response was: Of course, it's common sense. So I had to pull the information out of the person. And e said: Without it I would be isolated. Whereas in deaf culture I feel included totally. So these were the three sentence response that we were able to get.

HANK BERSANI: Rosalee in general you commented that the men had much fewer comments and shorter comments than the women. So even though the gender mix is pretty even in the sample we might be hearing more from the women. You got some real chattiness going with women and not so much with the guys.

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: Yep. The men get right to the point and that's the end of it. And the one wanted to be a cheerleader. That was interesting. I think the video camera was somewhat intimidating too. People didn't want to talk too much. In a way I wish we could have done away with the camera. But it made it a little more of a task for me and I had to work a little harder to get responses. This girl was ambivalent as well. She liked both cultures. She felt more comfortable in the deaf culture. But at the same time she valued what she got from hearing culture, mainstream culture. The first response is interesting. This is from a mainstream student who said: Oh, there are too many signs I'm not interested in all those signs. So that was interested to her deaf culture meant signing all day long and it was tiring to her. She would rather use both Modalities, talk and sign. She wasn't as interested in the social aspects of going to school. So but there are-there are some consistencies throughout the responses. This is a residential school students response. Very interesting. This is a person who had gone to the mainstream school and then entered the residential school during senior year so this is the first year in a residential school. This person said: No, deaf culture is not important. I'm going to Montana State University where my fiancee is going. And this person would rather go to a mainstream school with hearing people. So I asked her: Do you have a bad experience at the residential school? And she said no, it was very positive. But I just feel like Montana is a personal preference, it would fit my-what I need better. This person also values deaf culture, finds it important. And here on the bottom, this is the girl who was going to Montana because of her fiancee. And I said: Well you value deaf culture? She said yes of course. I said how are you going to preserve it if you are going to be totally immersed in this hearing college with a small deaf community? She said well I will be an ASL tutor because I value ASL and my language. And again we see the same thing. That was the last slide. Take it away.

HANK BERSANI: Okay. Now it's time for the old guy to talk about what we didn't do. There's obviously a lot of limitations to what we were able to accomplish. We're going to run down a quick list here. Julia, if you can go to the next slide, please.

JULIA SMITH: Do you want that one?

HANK BERSANI: No I'm sorry, back one. One up. Oh, okay. I'm sorry. I had we had separate ones. Okay. The study was very small only ten students. I got to start off thinking we could easily get 20 students, ten mainstream and ten residential, and have Rosalee interview them and in realtime have Julia take notes on what they were saying so there wouldn't be the video camera and they both Pete me up because it shows how much I know about how this works. And we were given good advice on camera angles et cetera. So we got ten students and by rose lease comment that was plenty. When. But we ended up with very few mainstream students. I got the sense that more of the mainstream students were not interested in participating than were the residential school folks. But we ended up with a very disproportionate balance for the few people we had. A couple of the interviews were very short, a couple of the guys had a lot less to say. So everybody isn't equally represented in the themes, because they didn't say enough to be quoted. To be quoted as many times. We had of course some limited time and funds. We got the abstract slide at the beginning gave credit. We got I think $5000 from the western Oregon University foundation and that paid for mileage, staff time for Rosalee, transcribing videotapes, photocopying and everything. And we weren't prepared to compare to hearing students with the exception of some of those global dropout rates and so forth. For me to be ultimately useful to me to think about the deaf students that are applying to our university or other universities, I want to be able top compare more directly to what we know about other college students. And I think that's coming in the next phase. So some of the tentative conclusions from a small sample, mostly residential students with more information from the young women than the young men: Students feel overwhelmed at the end of their senior year. We were talking to them at the end of their senior year, and they're pretty much: Oh my gosh, there's a lot going on, a lot to decide. The students wished they had started their college search earlier. For those of you who are interested in the research angle: By interview folks and taking their notes for face value right now that is sometimes called situational meaning. We didn't ask the guidance counselors when they thought they started talking about college, et cetera. Some of our conversations with the guidance counselors make us be more duty full of that but we're just taking the students point of view as true. So they wish they had started earlier. They see it as the schools responsibility to help them. The high schools job to help them and some of the colleges to help them get situated in the new college. They see some shared responsibility.

We said that we concluded that the students are expecting a variety of accommodations in college. And obviously interpreting was the strongest one. Note taking also came up. Decision about where to go to college is complex and driven by many factors just like it is with a lot of high school students. I do a lot of interviewing folks who are thinking coming to western as a freshman and some western is the only place they wanted to go and some: Well I'm going to be in Seattle on Monday, I want to come down to western on Tuesday, I'm going to Los Angeles on Wednesday. So there is some shopping around. There is this more complex issue around deaf culture and language and how that factors in that is not present with-at least we suspect it's not present with other college applicants. And so whether that sort of drives out the idea about academic major, whether that pushes that down a little lower or not, I think we would know if we can interview students over more time. Some of the issues seem to be typical: Adolescent transition struggles, and others seem more specific to deaf students. Julia and I are going: Sounds like my kid, sounds like my kid-and then: Oh, that sounds different. And with students hopes and aspirations, including meeting new friends, finding a career, et cetera. So they sound like any hopeful college freshman. What stood out? The number of students who chose not to participate. Again, maybe a bit naive. You know, with surveys you expect a 30, 40 percent participation rate. I naive ly thought if we showed up at high school deaf programs and said you guys are the experts, please sit down with us and tell us what's going on in your minds? Oh yeah and we paid them. Not a loot.


HANK BERSANI: Yeah, here's 20 bucks to sit down and chat with Rosalee and tell us what you're thinking. I thought we were going to have trouble with choosing which ten we were going to pick. But I was a little surprised hive got to admit. 7 of ten going to college had hearing parents never went to college. That idea of being the first generation in your family to go to college. Western has a lot of students like that. So very much aware of that idea of the first generation college student. But to have it be the deaf student in the family, and thinking back my first early exposure to deafness was over 30 years ago now, 30 years ago. And certainly you know if doctors at a university clinic were telling parents that their kid was deaf 30 years ago, the likelihood of thinking that kid would be the first one in the family to go to college. And here three-quarters of our deaf students were the first person in their family going to college. That was a surprise to me. All but one are going out of state and none are going to Community College of those we found who agreed to be interviewed, who on that date were pretty sure where they were going. Okay, they were traveling, moving on. That's a much higher percentage than happens at a lot of state universities, the percent that are from out of state. Many students described what they saw as limitations of high school. And again some limitations in their experience both from the mainstream schools and from the residential schools. And students shared the desire to explore the real world. And again I'm curious about the real world. It's clear that folks from the residential schools the real world means the world outside that residential school. If we had had more kids from mainstream settings would they have talked about wanting to explore a different kind of real world or would they have talked about exploring the deaf world. It would have been nice to see. .

JULIA SMITH: That's it.

HANK BERSANI: And the last slide there is how to contact Julia. She's the lead person on this. So feel free to ask her any of the difficult questions. And we did save time. Well a few minutes. We were hoping to save at least a little bit of time for people to ask to clarify. The main thing that we're actually hoping to find out from folks, right now or even privately afterwards, because we really are dedicated to doing this again with more people. What would you ask differently? What would you do? We want to kind of redesign it. And we love feedback from folks. Obviously getting access to students transcripts came up. That would be interesting. We're interested if people have ideas an how to build on this and get more specific information. Question back here.

SPEAKER 3: Yeah. What about the parents' participation in this process of selection of a university?


JULIA SMITH: I'm a doctoral student right now, and for one of my classes, that's one of the studies I did was looking at comparing and contrasting parents' perspectives and high school seniors perspectives in regards to college readiness. And that was very interesting and quite diverse. That would be a great study to do more with.

HANK BERSANI: Yeah. I think to act maybe more directly about support with your parents, what we asked was: Who do you get support from? They listed guidance counselors, siblings, parents. And we're thinking next time more of a survey and list several types of people: Parents, guidance counselors and see how often people chose which. Of course the high school students image of support is maybe not what a guidance counselors image of support. So some of the answers were maybe not what we were asking for but they were the students answers. ROSALEE GALLIMORE: If I may, I would like to add that I did ask the participants how their parents felt about them going to college and most of them responded that their parents were very supportive with their decision. So indeed I did ask that. Yes?

SPEAKER 3: My question was about the process. You mentioned that-about school supports but what about the parental supports?

HANK BERSANI: That's a good question.

SPEAKER 3: I'm just wondering about the undecided student, if that could have been part of that process. Because you know I do an internship at a Community College, and bringing some of those students over to figure out what it is that is their barrier. Because these students kind of know that they already want to go, but even if their senior year, the ones that aren't decided yet. .

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: Yeah, we did have one actually -

HANK BERSANI: Well undecided about where, I think? But not decided about if they were going to college. I think Laura is asking about-I'm most cur also curious about those who choose not to go to college how differently do they look on some of these issues? It's more people, more interviews, more painful transcriptions.


JULIA SMITH: There were two undecided. And they were-but if I recall right, and Rosalee maybe you can help with this. If I recall they were people who were wanting, they had ideas of where they wanted to go. But none of them talked about community colleges. That's another thing I think we could do is a follow-up: Where did these students go and what was their first year of college like? So I think that's something that would be very interesting, because I'm wondering if some of these actually ended up in a Community College. Because not all the students-we interviewed them Army. It was early spring, late winter, some of them hadn't heard back from their colleges. They knew that they were going to go but they hadn't been accepted yet. So it would be interesting to follow up on that and we haven't done that.

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: And there were two things. One of which: I remember one girl from WSD she said that she had applied but didn't know whether or not she was accepted so she didn't know whether she should go there. I said go ahead and plan as if you are, get your VR and your forms in order. But maybe that will hold true for next year. Maybe you can work a year. And she had to figure that out. That was the other undecided person. You know what? There was something else as well. Next year I want to follow up with all ten and contact them again the summer after they've completed their first academic years as freshmen and how that went for them. And I have all of their contact information so I do hope for follow-up research and getting the results of that and knowing whether or not there were frustrations and things that they wished would have happened or if there were other issues that came up in that time.

SPEAKER 3: I'm curious if you were a man if you would get a different response, or a girl. Do you think you would get a better response from the boys.

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: Indeed. We need a co interviewer I can do the girls and he can do the boys. That is a very good point. Thank you for that. Maybe I-there was another hand?

ROSALEE GALLIMORE: All right. Thank you.

JULIA SMITH: Thank you very much. Hopefully in two years maybe we'll come back and tell you if we did any further research with this. Please fill out your evaluation forms and hand them to Kathleen. And there are also purple forms for the total conference that need to be filled out. And can be handed to Kathleen. So maybe take a minute to fill those out while you're here. Thank you very much.



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