How to overcome college access issues in rural districts

Rural students enroll in college at lower rates than do their suburban and urban peers.
By: | July 2, 2020

Students in rural schools enroll in college at lower rates than do their suburban and urban peers.

Jennifer Glynn, the director of research for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, has been studying these college access issues.

Here’s a list, with some solutions:

Problem: Rural schools offer fewer AP, IB and other advanced courses that prepare students for college work.

Solution: Replicate the model used by the Mississippi Consortium for Educational Access, which connects a group of rural high schools in the state with colleges and universities that offer distance learning AP courses.

Problem#2: Smaller staff numbers in rural schools mean students may have less access to counseling.

Solution #1: Educators should begin making college plans with students in middle school so they take the correct courses. Waiting for junior year is too late.

Solution #2: Have college students and high school seniors accepted to college mentor young students through the application process.

Problem: The lack of nearby colleges means rural students aren’t exposed to college life.

Solution #1: Rural educators should begin talking to students about college in the early grades, using presumptive language such as “when you go to college” rather than “if you go to college.”

Solution #2: Encourage teachers to wear college gear and hang banners from their alma maters in schools.

Read the other stories in our series on rural school districts and the challenges of COVID: