Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education


Education Policy



First Advisor

Lesley Bogad


Many scholars (Cox, 2016; Harklau & McClanahan, 2012; Niemann & Maruyama, 2005; Solórzano, 2005) have explored the causes of opportunity gaps in higher education. Those studies have looked at the various impediments to accessing higher education that have led to the persistence of gaps in college attendance rates, but few have specifically explored the complex relationship between college admissions officers and institutional admissions policies. This study will contribute to literature related to higher education access by examining the roles of admissions officers and adding their perspectives to a body of work where their voices have been largely absent. Grounded in Critical Race Theory (CRT) with particular emphasis on its application in education (Ladson-Billings & Tate Iv, 1995; Taylor, 2009), this study critically examines how admissions officers understand their roles in shaping pathways to higher education. Each of the three manuscripts that follow are drawn from the qualitative research I conducted with admissions officers at public colleges in New England over the course of eighteen months. Through textual analysis of college websites, surveys, and semi-structured interviews with 21 different admissions officers, I sought to understand how college admissions officers made sense of their role in shaping access to higher education and the implications this work has on issues of equity.



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