Higher Education

Rural students are the least likely to go to college

They’re being ignored as the nation tries to ramp up degree completion

Dustin Gordon grew up thinking he would work the land. He’s from Sharpsburg, Iowa, population 89, where agriculture is the lifeblood of the region. He says most of his friends from high school have gone into farming.

“And I was kind of the one exception,” he says. “You know, my dad was a farmer and I kind of steered away from that.”

Instead, Gordon is working on a degree in finance at the University of Iowa. Some of his friends have gone to college, too, but a lot of high school graduates from places like Sharpsburg don’t – and if they do, they often don’t finish.

Only 59 percent of rural high school graduates enroll in college the subsequent fall, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. That’s a lower proportion than students from urban and suburban areas.

In this week’s episode of Educate, Jon Marcus, the higher-education editor for The Hechinger Report, discusses how colleges have failed to pay attention to the needs of rural students.

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