Postsecondary Education Expectations and Attainment of Rural and Nonrural Students

Ayrin Molefe and Matthew R. Burke, AIR
Nancy Collins, Dinah Sparks, and Kathleen Hoyer, Activate Research Policy Solutions

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.

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.

The study 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.