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Regional Educational Laboratory Program


College Enrollment and Persistence in Rural Pennsylvania Schools

Region:
Mid-Atlantic
Description:
The purpose of this study was to examine the college enrollment and persistence rates of rural high schools in Pennsylvania; the types of postsecondary institutions in which students from such schools enroll; and the student, school, and college characteristics associated with enrollment and persistence outcomes. The study used extant data from the National Student Clearinghouse, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In phase I, descriptive statistics were conducted to compare rural and non-rural immediate and delayed college-going rates, persistence rates, and types of postsecondary enrollment. In phase II, variations among Pennsylvania rural schools with higher and lower college-going rates were examined by grouping schools into quartiles based on college enrollment rates, then comparing the characteristics of the different quartiles. In phase III, multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine the individual and combined influence of student-, school-, and college-level variables on college enrollment and persistence rates. Results indicate that rural high schools have higher rates of enrollment than city schools, but lower rates than suburban and town schools; rural schools located in closer proximity to urban areas have better postsecondary outcomes than more remote rural schools; rural schools with higher rates of economically disadvantaged students tend to have lower enrollment and persistence rates; and, regardless of locale, Pennsylvania high schools send the large majority of their students to public 4-year colleges and in-state colleges. Results suggest that the lower enrollment and persistence rates are associated with factors identified in the literature as key influences, particularly poverty. Educators and policymakers should focus attention on economically disadvantaged rural students to improve college enrollment and persistence.
Publication Type:
Making Connections
Online Availability:
Publication Date:
October 2014