Education research is revealing the troubling reasons why rural students are less likely to go to college, but some schools are banding together to buck the trend.
The Hechinger Report’s Jon Marcus and Matt Krupnick recently pointed out the troubling trend with rural students who, whether because of cost, culture shock, or a sense of hopelessness, just don't want to go to college.
“It’s not that rural students aren’t academically prepared. They score better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress than urban students and graduate from high school at a higher percentage than the national average, the U.S. Department of Education reports,” according to the education site.
“Yet even the highest-income white students from rural areas are less likely to go to college right from high school than their well-off white city and suburban counterparts, according to the National Student Clearing House, which tracks this: 61 percent of graduates from high-income, predominantly white schools enrolled immediately in higher education, comparted to 72 percent from urban schools and 74 percent from suburban ones.”
Dustin Gordon, who grew up in Sharpsburg, Iowa—a town with a population of 89, contends “there’s just no motivation for people to go” to college.
“When they’re ready to be done with high school, they think, ‘That’s all the school I need, and I’m just going to go and find a job,” he said.
But some schools are setting a new example by working together.
According to The Christian Science Monitor:
Meadowbrook High School in Byesville, Ohio, part of the Rolling Hills school district, operates in a county beset by declining population and low-wage jobs. The median household income is 24 percent lower than that of the nation as a whole and fewer than 14 percent of adults have a four-year college degree. School officials say that 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch, a measure of poverty.
Yet Meadowbrook, which serves 490 students from across a sprawling 128-square-mile district, is thriving when it comes to graduation rates and participation in higher-ed. In just a few years, the school has managed to create a culture in which going to college is becoming the norm rather than the exception.
The change is tied to the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative, an effort involving 21 districts working together to provide the same access to dual enrollment courses and postsecondary opportunities as urban and suburban schools.
“We’ve seen tremendous success,” superintendent Ryan Caldwell told the news site. “We think the impact is going to be tremendous for this community.”
In essence, rural communities in Ohio and elsewhere are banding together to motivate students to pursue higher education, through fundraising and encouragement to enroll in dual-enrollment classes.
University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, wrote about the impact communities have on education, and moral education specifically, in The Tragedy of Moral Education in America.
Moral education can work where the community, and schools and other institutions within it, share a moral culture that is integrated and mutually reinforcing; where the social networks of adult authority are strong, unified, and consistent in articulating moral ideals and their attending virtues; and where adults maintain ‘caring watchfulness’ over all aspects of a young person’s maturation.
Meadowbrook is engaging the whole community and others in the same situation to motivate students to succeed. And they're creating role models for future students to look up to.
The Jubilee Centre and others offer lessons for educators to help students build determination through a focus on the people who inspire them, from celebrities, to teachers, to classmates heading off to college.