Without a map: College access and the online practices of youth from low-income communities

Michael Geoffrey Brown, Donghee Y. Wohn, Nicole Ellison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


In the United States, low and high-income young people currently have unequal access to information about higher education. Low-income prospective college students, for example, are less likely to have informational resources in their immediate families, requiring that they rely on information from other sources. We report on interview data collected in two high schools, one in a rural/suburban school district (N = 43), the other in an urban district (N = 25), which offer insight into how high school students from low-income communities use the Internet to learn about college. We observe that students are capable of accessing a great diversity of information about college online, but run into challenges when trying to interpret of that information. We introduce the term "knowledgeable translators" to capture the important role played by contacts with specialized knowledge about post-secondary institutions who help students evaluate and contextualize college information via online and offline channels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-116
Number of pages13
JournalComputers and Education
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


  • Computer mediated communication
  • Lifelong learning
  • Media in education
  • Secondary education


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