Prior research shows that rural students' education expectations and aspirations, as well as their postsecondary enrollment and persistence rates, tend to be lower than those of nonrural students. However, much of that prior research may not apply to today's students because it uses old data or focuses on individual states or purposive samples. Meanwhile, recent policy initiatives at both the national and state levels have emphasized increasing college-going rates. Moreover, because of the rise in online learning options, high school students have more opportunities to take college preparatory courses and pursue college education without leaving home. The Rural Research Alliance partnered with Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest to examine more recent postsecondary education expectations, attainment, and realization of expectations of rural and nonrural grade 10 students in the REL Midwest Region and the rest of the nation. The study also examined the reasons that rural and nonrural students in the REL Midwest Region reported for not expecting to pursue postsecondary education. It used the most recently released data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, which surveyed a nationally representative sample of grade 10 students in 2002 and then administered follow-up surveys of the same individuals in 2004, 2006, and 2012, eight years after expected high school graduation. The study used data from 2002 and 2012. It aims to support policymakers and other stakeholders in the REL Midwest states by informing policy recommendations for improving postsecondary attainment among rural students in the region. Key findings include: (1) Approximately 90 percent of both rural and nonrural grade 10 students in REL Midwest Region states in 2002 expected to attend college, but the percentage who expected to attain a master's degree or higher was higher among nonrural students than among rural students; (2) The reason that both rural and nonrural students reported most frequently for not expecting to pursue postsecondary education was financial concerns; (3) Rural and nonrural students had similar levels of postsecondary educational attainment by 2012; (4) Almost two-thirds of both rural and nonrural students had fallen short of their grade 10 postsecondary education expectations by 2012; and (5) Student characteristics, and to a lesser degree family characteristics and teacher expectations, rather than school locale, accounted for much of the variation in education expectations and attainment. The following are appended: (1) Literature review; (2) Data and methodology; and (3) Additional findings.
ERIC DescriptorsAcademic Aspiration, College Readiness, Educational Attainment, Expectation, Family Characteristics, Financial Problems, Gender Differences, Grade 10, High School Graduates, High School Students, Longitudinal Studies, Postsecondary Education, Racial Differences, Rural Schools, Socioeconomic Status, Statistical Analysis, Statistical Significance, Student Characteristics, Student Surveys, Teacher Expectations of Students, Urban Schools
Midwest | Publication Type: Descriptive Study | Publication
Date: March 2017